Title

Masculinity and Gossip in Anne Brontë’s Tenant

Document Type

Article

Publication Date

Fall 2009

Publication Title

SEL Studies in English Literature 1500-1900

Department

English

Abstract

Wollstonecraft's antipathy for women's lives is so palpable that even her most sympathetic readers have suspected her of wishing to make women not equal to but the same as men.2 Wollstonecraft's contention that rather than looking to their mothers, women should imitate "manly virtues, or, more properly speaking . . . those talents and virtues, the exercise of which ennobles the human character," lent support to this suspicion. 3 Her self-correction ("or, more properly speaking") and critique of aristocrats elsewhere make it evident that her target is not exclusively women but also aimless, idle lives that stoke vanity and repulse thought. According to Barbara Taylor, William Godwin's Memoirs made Wollstonecraft a pariah, and most women in the nineteenth century either rejected the "evil book," or, if they were inclined toward women's rights or equality, read it surreptitiously but did not acknowledge or openly ally themselves with Wollstonecraft.6 Anne Brontë appears to be one of those writers who quietly supported Wollstonecraft's ideas about femininity's drawbacks while avoiding Wollstonecraft's name.

Volume

49

Issue

4

pp.

907-924

ISSN

0039-3657