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Friedlander, K. (1943). Charlotte Brontë: a Study of a Masochistic Character. Int. J. Psycho-Anal., 24:45-53.

(1943). International Journal of Psycho-Analysis, 24:45-53

Charlotte Brontë: a Study of a Masochistic Character

Kate Friedlander

On entering the Brontë saga, we move at once upon highly emotional ground. It has struck me as significant that my attempts to discuss Jane Eyre with English friends immediately elicited the question: did I not know of the tragedy of the author's life? A great many biographers are attracted by Charlotte Brontë's personality, much more than by her work. Although at the present time many libraries are inaccessible, I have nevertheless been able to acquire sixteen biographies, some of them consisting of several volumes. In comparison with this it is interesting to note that during the investigation only five biographies of Dickens came to my notice, though there are plenty of books on his work. This disparity is in itself a point of psychological interest, but much more so when one finds in these biographies ardent disputes about facts which could easily be objectively ascertained. One theme especially is made the centre of attention: most authors agree that Charlotte Brontë suffered and bore her lot with admirable patience and piety; but there are disputes about what caused her suffering, whether it was fate, the treatment she received from her harsh and cruel father, the loneliness and bleakness of the West Riding landscape, the sadism of her teachers or the horrible life she had to lead in her situations as a governess. Some of her biographers go so far as to hint at the possible loss of some masterpieces, unwritten under these conditions.

We owe the first biography to Mrs.

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