It’s a must read for anyone who has a taste for classics. One of the really great things one should appreciate about classics, I feel, is their ability to engross the reader in the narration. And ‘Agnes Grey’ is one of those books which would not give you a moment’s peace until you finish reading it. I actually felt kind of sad to realize that the author Anne Bronte, the youngest member of the Bronte literary family, only has two novels to her credit! The other one is ‘The Tenant of Wildfell Hall’.
‘Agnes Grey’ especially reads very original probably because it is primarily based on Bronte’s experience as a governess. The daughter of a poor Irish clergyman in the Church of England, Anne Bronte lived most of her life with her family at the remote village of Haworth on the Yorkshire moors. For a couple of years she went to a boarding school. At the age of nineteen, she left Haworth working as a governess between 1839 and 1845. The protagonist Agnes Grey is somewhat of a representation of the author in real life. The pages are actually compiled from the diary of Agnes, but we don’t get to know it until in the concluding paragraph of the novel. Hence, the account is basically a conversation to the self which makes it more involving and personal. If you read the book you will find that you are actually having a closer a look into the life of the person in question since a diary is either strictly personal or rather a confession.
From the beginning to the very end, one cannot help but sympathize with Agnes Grey. Given the predicament she finds herself in, with her pupils. Agnes and her older sister Mary were the only two that survived the perils of infancy, of the six children of their poor clergyman father. Her father marries a woman from a noble family which her family doesn’t approve of. And apparently she never complains for having to live in poverty with her husband. Mrs. Grey is a character from which, I believe, we have a lot to learn. We find her to be the ultimate model of steadfastness, belief and mercy. Against all odds, she chooses to be patient and laughs away the hefty situation she deliberately brings herself in. And when Mr Grey passes away and her father sends a letter telling her that he hopes by now she feels regretful for the marriage, she gets angry and says she should not feel regretful for her two beautiful daughters (Who would also likely be her support in old age) and her intimate friend in whom she always found herself in repose. It is extremely touchy and I am sure it will touch anyone’s heart for it tells us what it means to be a true companion. Mrs. Grey proves the equation that there is a companionship both in life and death, and she chooses both without compromising either of them. Now if we look into Agnes’s character, we find a somewhat similar picture. She is, also like her mother, someone who does not judge people based on wealth and position. She chooses to fall in love with someone who is barely attractive, she rather goes for Mr.Weston for his good nature. And She does not regret it. She eventually finds that Mr. Weston loves her back.