65 pages 2 hours read

Anne Brontë

Agnes Grey

Fiction | Novel | Adult | Published in 1847

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Literary Devices

Direct Address

Sometimes called authorial comment, this tactic was a frequent device in 19th-century literature. In theater, this tactic of directly addressing the audience is known as “breaking the fourth wall.” In literature, it evolved from a trope in early novels, like Jonathan Swift’s Gulliver’s Travels and Daniel Defoe’s Moll Flanders, in which a narrator is a credible person relating an account of something that actually happened to them. Agnes Grey likewise assures the reader that Agnes is relating a “personal history.” Participating in the fiction of sharing a historical account, which could be educational for the reader, was a way that novelists could avoid the claim that they were writing sensational lies meant to delude or deceive an audience.

Agnes Grey uses direct address frequently. Sometimes, Agnes uses it to be coy about the depth of her emotions, for instance, when she hints that she will not relate something Mr. Weston said to her, but she will always remember it. Sometimes she uses the device to even out an emotional register, as when she concludes the novel, after relating her happy life with Mr. Weston, with “And now I think I have said sufficient” (153).