ELA 12: 6.7 Judging a Book by Its First Line

The Brontë sisters and their strong female characters paved the way for future generations of writers.

British LiteratureAll British Literature
LanguageEnglish Language
LiteratureBritish Literature

Transcript

00:24

acknowledged woman. Charlotte and her sisters Emily and Anne were authors in

00:29

their own right but living as they did in the 19th century they were in a

00:32

tricky place as female writers. that's true at least women could get published

00:38

hadn't always been the case however books by women tended to be seen as [novels by 19th century women pictured]

00:42

Chiclets, you know dealing with gossip romance and domestic life. in other words

00:47

the frivolous concerns of frivolous women. well their works weren't taken

00:51

seriously by the literary establishment whose members were more concerned with

00:55

stuff like philosophy or adventure or you know man stuff. well aware of the

01:00

literary climate each of the sisters adopted pseudonyms Charlotte published [men write with serious faces]

01:04

as Gurrer, Emily as Ellis, and Anne as Acton. well fortunately book signings

01:11

weren't common at the time so they didn't have to worry about being found

01:14

out by their legions of adoring fans. well the Bronte's weren't just

01:18

interested in getting their work published. they were also interested in

01:21

writing about heroines who escaped the dominant 19th century expectations for

01:26

women. in Jane Eyre Charlotte focuses on the life of Jane who starts the book is

01:32

an abused child living with rich relatives to be a lot less depressing if [child wears fancy ball gown with bandage on head]

01:36

she were happy and free and had two keys to a chocolate factory, but Charlotte

01:40

wasn't interested in writing to that kind of story.

01:42

we can get a taste of how Jane bucked tradition in a scene right before she's

01:47

about to be shipped off to boarding school . rather than accepting her lot

01:51

with traditional feminine and docility a good 19th century girl Jane lets her

01:56

aunt have it telling her exactly how she feels about her. Spoiler alert, Jane's not

02:01

exactly a huge fan of her cruel aunt. while this act gives Jane a feeling of

02:06

freedom and triumph, a feeling that Bronte thinks women ought to pursue, and

02:10

luckily for women everywhere there are plenty of ways to feel freedom

02:13

and triumph without yelling at family members. [woman kick boxes]

02:15

although few others make you feel so good.