The Professor

The Professor
Oxford University Press
Bronte, Charlotte, Anne and Emily
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Introduction, The Professor


The Professor, written in 1845-6 before Jane Eyre, challenged contemporary expectations of the novel by its brevity, realism, and insistence on a working career both before and after marriage for its hero and heroine. Yet without succumbing to the temptations of the `wild, wonderful and thrilling`, Charlotte Bronte made her plain tale both memorable and engaging. Her hero escapes from an uncongenial clerkship within the sooty brick walls of a Yorkshire mill to find work as a teacher in Belgium. With considerable psychological acuteness Charlotte Bronte traces his entanglement with the sensuously attractive `older woman`, Zoraide Reuter, whose later, suavely cruel manoeuvres are designed to separate him from the young and penniless girl who is both a teacher and a pupil in her school. Strikingly up to date for its period, the action begins against a background of the fight for better factory conditions in the 1830s, and finishes in the early 1840s with that spread of liberal ideas...

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