The Professor

  • Terry Eagleton


St John Rivers’s bourgeois values of ‘endurance, perseverance, industry, talent’,1 if sinisterly unfeeling in Jane Eyre’s eyes, are certainly shared by William Crimsworth of The Professor, whose motto, suitably, is ‘Hope smiles on effort’. Yet Crimsworth is not a middle-class philistine but a feminine, sensitive soul, too delicately cultivated to endure the deadeningly oppressive clerical work to which his manufacturing brother Edward sets him. He is despised by Edward and jocularly scorned by the radical, sardonic Whig capitalist Hunsden; yet his progress through the novel involves an interesting inversion of his original victimised condition. Crimsworth's mother was an aristocrat and his father a manufacturer; but whereas the callous Edward has inherited, temperamentally, only from his father, Crimsworth has been conveniently engrafted with qualities from both parents, and the combination proves unbeatable. He is superior in imaginative sensibility to both Edward and Hunsden (who hates poetry), and it is this trait which, as with Jane Eyre and Lucy Snowe, brings him at first to suffer degradation at the hands of a crassly authoritarian society.


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Copyright information

© Terry Eagleton 2005

Authors and Affiliations

  • Terry Eagleton
    • 1
  1. 1.Manchester UniversityUK

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