RN | ET Student
“Women are supposed to be very calm generally: but women feel just as men feel; they need exercise for their faculties, and a field for their efforts, as much as their brothers do; they suffer from too rigid a restraint, to absolute a stagnation, precisely as men would suffer; and it is narrow-minded in their more privileged fellow-creatures to say that they ought to confine themselves to making puddings and knitting stockings, to playing on the piano and embroidering bags. It is thoughtless to condemn them, or laugh at them, if they seek to do more or learn more than custom has pronounced necessary for their sex.”
-Charlotte Brontë, Jane Eyre
In a dim basement of Haworth, England, I sat in awed silence as I listened to a dismal narrative of the tragic events and circumstances that comprised the lives of the Brontës, who had lived and written in the parsonage above us. Constantly surrounded by the bleak realities of death and disease, it is nothing short of a miracle that the spark of imagination was not completely extinguished in the Brontë family. But it was not.
Charlotte Brontë’s father, Patrick Brontë, was dedicated to teaching his daughters as much as he possibly could, and he never distinguished between his male and female children in the way he administered this education. They grew up reading and writing stories, and they were encouraged in their curiosity about the world around them. From early ages, all three of the Brontë sisters were extremely intelligent and had an extraordinary gift for writing.
Despite this natural curiosity and talent, however, Charlotte Brontë lived in a world that sought to stifle her pursuit of knowledge and excellency in literature. Burdened by tragedy, she persisted in writing, but her efforts were still rejected by those who couldn’t see past her feminine exterior.
Upon reading Charlotte Brontë’s Jane Eyre in my spare time a few years ago, I had the distinct impression that the words must have proceeded from a fierce and resilient soul. Brontë’s work is charged with defiant, independent energy, and her heroine dares the world to question her self-sufficiency. Now, as I stand in the room where the fruits of her imagination came to life, I realize how deeply I admire this woman: Charlotte Brontë, possessor of a prolific spirit that refused to be suppressed by doubt or dire circumstance.