Top positive review
39 people found this helpful
The tale of a governess
on 13 August 2005
Mrs Brontë tells the tale of Agnes Grey, a young governess of a little over 20 and her experience working for two families, The Bloomfields and their 3 children Tom, Mary Ann and Fanny, and with the Murrays and their two daughters Mathilda and Rosalie.
In writing her first novel, Mrs Brontë must have drawn from her own experiences in 1839 when she worked for the Ingham family at Blake Hall and from 1840 till 1845 with the Robinsons at Thorp Green Hall. As her sister Charlotte sated, this personal experience lies behind many of the characters and events as well as Agnes's feelings in the novel.
As a first novel, it show an astonishing maturity and technical accomplishment since "Agnes Grey" is in many ways a very personal story. Mrs Brontë describes as vividly as possible the strong pressures that a governess' life involved at that time - the isolation, the frustrations, the insensitive treatment of employers and their families. Actually it transpires in this novel that middle-class households used to consider a governess as little more than a servant thus undervaluing her role as an educator. And the author's view of such households is sharply cynical: they are self-satisfied, vulgar, small-minded snobs who delight in social pretension. They are mercilessly depicted in their moral emptiness and Agnes actually suffers from moral isolation which becomes more and more oppressive and alienating, especially during her stay with the Murrays. In this family Agnes feel deprived from ordinary human kindness and warmth of affection so much so that she falls into depression because she feels that her moral identity is being destroyed, no longer confident in her "distinctions of right and wrong".
A remarkable novel about a young woman and such issues as moral behaviour, moral responsibility and individual integrity.