Sunday 24 January 2016

Book Review: The Professor by Charlotte Bronte

I'm a big Jane Eyre fan, so one of my friends gave me this book.  It is the story of William
Crimsworth, who comes from a rich family, but his parents die when he is young and he is raised by some family members.  When he comes of age, he isn't willing to live by the demands of these relations and so he seeks to make his own way in the world.  He starts off by seeking out his brother, Edward.  Edward has inherited the family home and business, but is cold and cruel and is only willing to give William a lowly position in the business.  During this time, William meets Mr. Hunsden who is sometimes friendly, but more often caustic.  Crimsworth doesn't entirely trust Hunsden, but when he quits his job after his brother becomes too cruel, Hunsden recommends Crimsworth to work in a boys school in Brussels.

Crimsworth doesn't really approve of Brussels, or either of his employers.  He is lonely and friendless until he meets Frances Evans Henri, a fellow teacher at the girls school where he spends part of each teaching day.  She is respectful, smart and, most importantly to Crimsworth, Protestant!  (He greatly distrusts Catholics.)  Unfortunately, their burgeoning relationship is thwarted by people, fortune and social restraint, but I will not spoil the ending.

There are certainly similar themes and characters between The Professor and Jane Eyre: The struggle to achieve fortune and respect in a corrupt culture, strong-willed characters, and some of the dialogue between Frances and William is reminiscent of that between Jane and Mr. Rochester.  There is also a strong emphasis on education and teaching.  However, this book is lacking the passion and suspense that I love in Jane Eyre.  Frances isn't quite as fiery as Jane and William is a weak substitute for Mr. Rochester.  Like Jane Eyre, the book is peppered with strange and well-drawn characters, but not enough of them are likeable to be engaging.  It reminded my a lot of Charles Dickens, whom I find difficult.  There is also nothing gothic about this book, which is a shame.

It was an interesting read; however I don't think I'll be inspired to reread The Professor again and again like I am to reread Jane Eyre

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