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Charlotte Bronte

by Eleasa from Saskatchewan

Charlotte Bronte, painted by her brother Patrick Bronte (Wikipedia)
Charlotte Bronte, painted by her brother Patrick Bronte (Wikipedia)

Charlotte Bronte is a well known author; know for her love story in Jane Eyre, her society-challenging Shirley, and her novel Villette, which challenged gender roles and questioned religious tension. She was a strong minded woman. She was centuries ahead of herself in her novels, poems and morals. In fact, she would become one of the most recognized female authors of her time.

Bronte was born in spring 1816 in Yorkshire, England to a clergyman priest and his wife. Charlotte's family consisted of two parents and six children. Charlotte was particularly close with her four sisters and her brother. Unfortunately, Charlotte's mother would pass away when Charlotte was an early age, as would her two eldest sisters. Charlotte's life began at a boarding school called the Clergyman's daughters. There the food was poor, the living conditions were terrible and the teachers were ruthless. It was not easy for Charlotte when she first began her career as a student there, but she did learn from it. Despite the experiences, she would later become a teacher at two other schools, and then a governess. After her job as a governess, Charlotte would return to Yorkshire to the family home. What Charlotte really wanted out of life was to make her own way through the world without any help. She was a writer and a dreamer who hated that all a women was allowed to do as a way of means in her society was to teach, to clean or to give birth. Charlotte wanted to write, and she did. She would send in long, detailed manuscripts to publishers, but all of them would be rejected. One day, she and her two sisters who would also become great writers, Anne and Emily, decided that the only way to get respect as writers was to use male pen names. Charlotte submitted the novel Jane Eyre under the name Lord Charles Albert Florian Wellesley Currer Bell. The novel was a hit. Charlotte's true identity wouldn't come out until after her brothers and sisters passing in 1848 and '49. Despite the invitations to a frumpy, easy life were passed her way, Charlotte didn't care much for the idea. She would visit if asked, but she would always return to her lonely father at the homestead. Charlotte married Author Bell Nichols, her father's help at the church. Unfortunately, Charlotte's time married wouldn't be a long one. Charlotte would die along with her unborn child only a year after her marriage. Scholars argue about how she died, but it was clear that before her death that Charlotte was sick.

In Charlotte's famous novel, Jane Eyre, she shows off her imagination, her personality and her past experiences veiled by an intriguing story of true love and determination. Much of Charlotte's feelings about the school she attended, the people she met and the things she wanted to experience were in that book. The character Helen Burns is partially based on her eldest sister's experience at the school. Some have even said that Jane's love interest, Mr. Rochester, was based upon Charlotte's ideal man- someone who isn't handsome, but is witty and a bit gruff, and always a gentleman. Charlotte made Jane's life hard, questionable and, overall, interesting. Jane goes to school, she works as a governess, she runs away, she receives a fortune, and she finds a family. Jane's life is full of trials, unraveling mystery and power. Like Charlotte, Jane lives like she wants no matter what may be said about her.

The reason I picked Charlotte as my hero was because of her determination and personality. She wasn't just smart, she was clever. She wasn't just strong willed, she was a leader. Her life was not an easy one, but she was determined that she would live the best one that she could. She challenged society and showed the European world that she would not waste her life living as a governess or a maid, but something exiting and interesting. Through her wit and determination, she made her way through life doing what she wanted to do and being who she wanted to be.

I think that a hero isn't just someone that you can look up to- a hero should be exciting, their view should challenge you, and you should be able to relate to them, or be inspired by them. Charlotte was a challenging, interesting, strange, powerful woman who will forever be one of the greatest female writers to ever live.

Page created on 3/9/2012 12:00:00 AM

Last edited 3/9/2012 12:00:00 AM

The beliefs, viewpoints and opinions expressed in this hero submission on the website are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the beliefs, viewpoints and opinions of The MY HERO Project and its staff.

Related Links

The Victorian Web - A biography of Charlotte's life
The Literature Network - Another Biography, complete with quotes
The Poetry Foundation - A discussion on Charlotte's poems