This book is about a young woman who decides to become a governess and finds the job a lot tougher than she had anticipated. The children refuse to listen to her, their parents blame her for their offspring’s terrible behaviour, and she finds herself increasingly frustrated by the thanklessness of her work.
I’m the same age now as Anne Brontë was when she wrote this book and as an English teacher, a lot of Agnes’s troubles hit home for me. Some struggles are timeless, it seems.
Jane Eyre (2011).
If you were an unmarried young woman in the Victorian age and you didn’t have a fortune of your own, working as a governess would be one of the few ways you could earn your living. They would be hired by a wealthy family to live in a house that wasn’t theirs and look after other people’s children, with no leisure time and few possessions to call their own. It was hard and often thankless work – and many of these women found themselves wishing for a way out, for something more.
[Cue Belle singing about the "great wide somewhere."]