Date of Award
Master of Arts (MA)
Charlotte Bronte' s use of direct address in three of her novels, Jane Eyre, Villette, and The Professor is fundamental for each character' s growth in his or her respective novel. Addressing and communicating with the reader is the characters' only means for gaining an understanding and caring person in a life where they are social outcasts. Jane Eyre, Lucy Snowe, and William Crimsworth tackle vastly different struggles throughout their young lives: Jane longs for an empathetic listener, Lucy is wrought with jealousy and obsession, and William is privileged and arrogant. While each character deals with different struggles, they each have one commonality: solitude which results in perpetual loneliness. The sole outlet in a life of seclusion for the characters is to address their reader. Jane, Lucy, and W illiam construct their reader in a way that ideally benefits them they address their reader in the way that they would like to be addressed, or how they perceive others (the reader included) think of them. Jane longs for compassion and therefore addresses her reader as gentle. Because Lucy is oftentimes criticized by those around her, she addresses her reader in the same way: showing great anxieties about the way she perceives herself. While William has more advantages because he is male, he is still patronized by his family and others, a trait that William, perhaps inadvertently, bestows upon his reader. Regardless of the ways in which each character addresses his or her reader the end result is the same: Jane, Lucy, and William are validated by their understanding and compassionate reader.
Monin, Christan M., "Addressing the Reader in Charlotte Bronte's Novels: Jane Eyre, Vilette, and The Professor" (2010). English Master’s Theses. 26.