Textual Analysis of Agnes Grey by Anne Bronte

Extract taken from Chapter XXII, p172-173 from “Whether from the influence of fashionable dissipation” to “the proposal was a considerable relief to her.”

Anne Brontё’s Buildungsroman Agnes Grey concerns a young heroine struggling to make her way in an environment antagonistic to the economic and intellectual development of women. It is a novel of education, about education. It comprises the education and development of the narrator in a diversity of ways, dealing with her learning about the world and love as a character, woman and teacher. The somewhat turgid plot is calculated to keep the reader’s concentration on the life of a mind. The specific extract is placed towards the conclusion of the novel and involves her visit to her former pupil Rosalie Murray, now Lady Ashby. The extract considers the change in both Rosalie and Agnes and represents societies placing of women, and Agnes’ rebelling of this straightjacket idea of women.
Anne Brontё uses language and form to portray several of her ideas on women, society and relationships in her novel and in the extract above. Brontё uses her protagonist Agnes Grey to narrate her own story with authority, talking from first person; Agnes’s narration often appears on the page as a stream of her own thoughts, debating openly in front of the reader on situations and decisions at hand: “I might endeavour to win her confidence; but, if she chose to conceal her matrimonial cares from me, I would trouble her with no obtrusive questions.”# This method of sharing the Agnes’s thoughts with the reader serves to defy the idea of the submissive Victorian woman by providing a vent for Brontё to express herself - and also to the many people whose social roles prevented them from expressing themselves - through Agnes Grey.
Brontё attaches the form of Realism to Agnes Grey: the novel is formed of a linear narrative and an omniscient narrator. Brontё’s use of language is carefully matched to the subject and form of the novel;...