Anne Brontë: An Unlikely Subversive
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Anne Brontë’s radical critique of literary tropes makes her a surprisingly subversive commentator on gender roles in the 1840s. Substituting realism and rationalism for the dangerous cocktail of romance and violence that is arguably the hallmark of Emily Brontë in particular, Anne also avoids the conservative strictures of writers such as Sarah Stickney Ellis, achieving a degree of autonomy for her heroines that is achieved through rational behaviour and moral integrity rather than open rebellion. Like other novels of the decade, Agnes Grey (1847) and The Tenant of Wildfell Hall (1848) position women as moral educators, but this role operates as a means of autonomy and agency, making their author ‘the quietest of rebels’.
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