Charlotte Brontë’s Jane Eyre is one of the most famous novels in the world; its heroine’s spirited response to hardship and temptation has engaged an eager readership since its publication in 1847. Jane Eyre, however, was not Charlotte Brontë’s only novel, and Patsy Stoneman’s book traces the development of her work from her exuberant early writing to her disturbing last work, Villette. A final chapter considers Charlotte Brontë’s shifting popular and academic reputation and the various adaptations and imitations of her work. Reading the novels in the context of Charlotte Brontë’s life and times, Stoneman emphasises her persistent engagement with power relations – within families, between classes and between men and women – and the changing narrative strategies with which she explores them. While keeping close to the words of the page, the book is informed by the critical perspectives of feminism, cultural materialism and postcolonialism.
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