65 pages 2 hours read

Anne Brontë

Agnes Grey

Fiction | Novel | Adult | Published in 1847

A modern alternative to SparkNotes and CliffsNotes, SuperSummary offers high-quality Study Guides with detailed chapter summaries and analysis of major themes, characters, and more.

Important Quotes

Quotation Mark Icon

“All true histories contain instruction; though, in some, the treasure may be hard to find, and when found, so trivial in quantity, that the dry, shrivelled kernel scarcely compensates for the trouble of cracking the nut. Whether this be the case with my history or not, I am hardly competent to judge.”

(Chapter 1, Page 3)

These first lines of the book establish Agnes as a first-person narrator describing her own personal history, creating the pretense that her story really happened and may, therefore, be instructive rather than a fanciful work of fiction. Agnes’s voice is modest, humble, and self-effacing—all important virtues for a Victorian, middle-class woman to possess. The note of humor in the image of her history being a tough nut to crack adds sophistication and narrative self-awareness that carries throughout the novel.

Quotation Mark Icon

“I only wished […] instead of lamenting past calamities we might all cheerfully set to work to remedy them; and the greater the difficulties, the harder our present privations, the greater should be our cheerfulness to endure the latter, and our vigour to contend against the former.”

(Chapter 1, Page 6)

Agnes’s response when their family is left impoverished by a failed investment shows that she already adheres, even when young, to the values of fortitude, industry, cheerfulness, and perseverance that form the novel’s moral backbone. This touch of romanticism in imagining her family coming together in adversity is a quality of young Agnes; she turns wiser and more practical as she comes of age in the course of the novel.

Quotation Mark Icon

“As we were toiling up, I looked back again; there was the village spire, and the old grey parsonage beyond it, basking in a slanting beam of sunshine—it was but a sickly ray, but the village and surrounding hills were all in sombre shade, and I hailed the wandering beam as a propitious omen […] With clasped hands I fervently implored a blessing on its inhabitants, and hastily turned away; for I saw the sunshine was departing; and I carefully avoided another glance, lest I should see it in gloomy shadow, like the rest of the landscape.”

(Chapter 1, Page 12)

Agnes’s last image of her home, the village parsonage, as she leaves for her first governess position exemplifies how Brontë uses landscape and weather to set a mood and foreshadow events. The individual’s closeness to and ability to be impacted by weather and natural features is a prevalent theme in Romantic literature, with which Brontë would have been familiar, though she leans toward domestic