“The Professor, written in 1845-6 before Jane Eyre, challenged contemporary expectations of the novel by its brevity, realism, and insistence on a working career both before and after marriage for its hero and heroine. William Crimsworth escapes from an uncongenial clerkship in a Yorkshire mill to find work as a teacher in Belgium. He becomes entangled with a sensuously attractive ‘older woman,’ whose later, suavely cruel manoeuvres are designed to separate him from the penniless girl who is both a teacher and a pupil in her school. Strikingly up to date for its era, the action begins amid the fight for better factory conditions in the 1830s, and ends in the early 1840s with that spread of liberal ideas which would lead to the continental revolution of 1848.”
The Professor by Charlotte Bronte was actually the very first book that Charlotte ever wrote, but it was passed over when she tried to get it published. This book was one of my required readings for a class and I am glad that I had to read it. I’m a fan of classic literature and authors like Jane Austen, Charlotte Bronte, and Charles Dickens, but I wouldn’t have chosen this book on my own because of the cover and title. I actually had a hard time making myself read this book. The first few chapters were slow. Not much happened. The story line does pick up a great deal in the middle and doesn’t stop until the end. This novel struck me as a 19th century romantic novel. The love story of William Crimsworth and Mademoiselle Henri was interesting and sweet. It was entertaining to see William go from disliking her to not being able to live without her once she left. They were both from different ranks in society but that didn’t stop them from falling for each other. Together they were even able to rise higher than ever in society. Most of my classmates absolutely despised this book, or only liked the last quarter of the book, and thought William to be arrogant. For some odd reason, I didn’t see it. To me he was a guy who had had a tough childhood and who grew up to be someone that his mother would have been proud of. If a reader doesn’t develop sympathy for this character early on then I’m sure that they’ll probably think William to be arrogant as well. If you enjoy classic stories and literature, then I highly recommend this novel!