Empowering Women through Education: A reading of Anne Brontë’s fiction
Keywords:Women’s education, economic independence, autonomy, marriage laws, Enlightenment philosophy
Nineteenth century Britain witnessed radical economic challenges brought about by rapid industrialisation and a burgeoning market that spread across the globe. It its wake it brought about significant changes in human rights, political rights, and labour rights as well as in the field of education. However, when it came to the question of women’s emancipation, the Victorian age proved to be regressive. The period saw a calcification of repressive moral stances and a devaluation of women’s labour. Cognizant of the restrictive role accorded to women Anne Brontë envisages a woman who can stand shoulder to shoulder with her male counterpart. She recognizes that the key to women’s emancipation lies in reimagining education – both male and female. Anne Brontë did not subscribe to the Victorian belief that the “true end of the education of women is making good wives and mothers.” Nor did she accept that boys should be educated in “masculinity.” Instead, she forwarded a concept of holistic education that will create well-rounded human beings. Eclipsed by the writings of her more talented sisters, Anne Brontë’s works tend to be marginalized, much like her protagonists. This paper attempts a comparative study of Agnes Grey and The Tenant of Wildfell Hall by Anne Brontë; to explore the socio-economical condition of Victorian women and their access to educational opportunities and the labour market. It traces Anne Brontë’s radical educational philosophy and attempts to uncover the thinkers who influenced her.
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