|Professor Heger, |
maybe 20 years after Charlotte
worked for his family.
I cannot separate Charlotte Bronte from the collective female. Her poems are, perhaps, undistinguished. (Emily Bronte has three poems on Poets.org but Charlotte has none.) But she (and Emily) towers over literature.
And that's why my first reaction to the news that Charlotte's love letters were being published today was dismay. Can't we allow the woman a little privacy? Many, female and male alike, have known torments and grief of illusion and unrequited love. Whole industries serve that impulse with how-to books, including the classic of my generation, Women Who Love Too Much, with its iterations for men and across all gender preferences.
But what next struck me about Charlotte's infatuation with her employer Professor Constantin Heger, an older man with a wife and children (this when she was a governess in Belgium), was the timeline.
So she's 28, and that's a Victorian 28, not a wise, once-divorced 28 of the new millennium. She falls in love, whatever love is.
And three years later, when she's 31, publishes Jane Eyre. This is not Medea killing her children because of Jason's infidelity. This is not Dido, self-immolating when Aeneas dumps her. (Both accomplished women, myths surely based on flesh and blood.) Charlotte's life, however, doesn't end. It just has a bump.
I'm posting this article from the Telegraph here BECAUSE I can't separate Charlotte Bronte from the collective female which she advanced and amplified.
Stupid crazy love, yes.
Three years later, Jane Eyre. One hundred years later? A television or movie re-envisioning of Jane Eyre practically every other year. A book which remains a favorite for readers and critics. A woman who endures.