The Accents of Persuasion

Robert Bernard

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First published in 1966, Robert Bernard Martin’s The Accents of Persuasion is a consummate critical study of Charlotte Brontë’s four novels: The Professor, Jane Eyre, Shirley and Villette.

‘The bare facts are so literally improbable as to tease one into considering the lives of the Brontes themselves as some wild metaphorical statement of the Romantic conception of the world…Even the best of biography, however, may tend to serve history rather than literature, and one may be forgiven for wishing to return from their lives to the works of the sisters Bronte… The following study, then, is an attempt to search out the themes that occupied [Charlotte] Bronte in her novels and to demonstrate how they are given artistic life; in short, to show how Charlotte Brontë attempted to speak ‘the language of conviction’ in the ‘accents of persuasion’.’ (Robert Bernard Martin, from his Introduction.)