Charlotte Brontë's first real attempt at professional writing.
However, the novel
was not published during her lifetime. It was finally published in
1857, but was never highly regarded by readers or critics. Charlotte’s
attempt to write from a
male perspective has been criticized as being flawed.
time in Brussels
had given her a wealth of memories. Her experiences at the Pensionnat
and her unrequited love for Monsieur
Heger were still fresh in her mind when she started writing The Professor.
draw from these memories and put them to creative use. They
gave her the inspiration for a story set in Brussels.
Whereas in Villette
she disguises place names (Belgium,
names of streets, etc.)
in her first literary work she
remained closer to the actual places.
beginning of the novel is set in England.
The central character, William
Crimsworth, is an
orphan. He is the ward of an aristocratic family who educate him; but
remains a dependant. He
decides to leave
his cold and indifferent relatives to visit his
prosperous brother Edward
in the industrial North, where he hopes to find work. But his brother turns out to
have a sadistic and
tyrannical nature. He is introduced to Yorke Hunsden, an ambitious young
who often visits the Continent. William decides to seek his
fortune there and, through a friend of Hunsden's, he finds employment
as a teacher
in a boys’ school in Brussels, run by M. Pelet. Later he is
teach at the neighbouring school for girls, a Catholic
‘Pensionnat’, run by the headmistress
Reuter. Though he is initially intrigued and attracted by her, he
her deceitful and manipulative nature as he finds himself involved in a
triangle involving power-games.
love for her is dead, and he now feels a growing interest in a
Mme Reuter’s school, Frances Henri. More power-games by
Zoraïde threaten the
awakening love of William and Frances. This forces William to bring the
relationship out into the open and act decisively. He resigns from his
position at the school but he finds a new post; Frances
now works as a seamstress, a lace-mender. They
finally find happiness when they marry.
however refuses to give up her work; she wishes to maintain independent
and has ambitions to run her own school.
ends where it started, in England,
where William and Frances, now comfortably off and with a son, pass
their lives in domestic happiness.