Charlotte and Jane: A Hypothetical Diversion from Reality


Description of a letter to Brontë’s friend, Ellen Nussey.

Charlotte Brontë’s letters to her good friend, Ellen Nussey, are revealing of some of the life events that directly influenced the construction of Jane Eyre. Comically similar to the advertisement posted by Jane in Jane Eyre seeking employment, the advertisement Brontë rejected in real life requested a “churchgoing” lady “competent to teach Music, French, and Drawing.” While Brontë rejected the offer, perceiving life as a governess to be a “miserable one,” she had Jane take the job. Brontë may have written of Jane’s decision to become an employed governess to imagine how her (Brontë’s) life would have developed if she had taken the position.

However, Brontë tethers Jane and herself together by describing a quality of a governess as “taking things easily . . . and making oneself comfortable and at home wherever we may chance to be- qualities in which all our family are singularly deficient.” This denial of easy comfort, a recurring restlessness, is a quality that almost defines Jane’s life as she moves frequently from place to place, going through many hardships before finally anchoring down. This similarity implies that Jane and Charlotte are in their essences the same person but in alternate realities where different paths were taken. This is an intriguing literary device that I will surely use in future creative writing.

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