65 pages 2 hours read

Anne Brontë

Agnes Grey

Fiction | Novel | Adult | Published in 1847

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Symbols & Motifs

Weather and Landscape

As is common in Romantic literature, weather and landscape play an important symbolic role throughout Agnes Grey. Agnes’s upbringing in what she calls a “rugged” country parallels the more innocent, one might say unrestrained tendencies of her nature as a girl. It is established early that Agnes enjoys the outdoors and the company of animals—indicative that her human nature is in tune with outdoor nature. The relatively flat landscape around O—, where the Murrays live in Horton Lodge, dismays Agnes in its difference from what she knows, reflecting the emotional struggles she will have adapting to the very different terrain of the Murray household.

Brontë uses weather throughout the novel to set mood and foreshadow emotional experiences. When Agnes leaves home for the first time, a small ray of sun shines on the village church, while a shadow is cast over the rest of the village. This can be read in many ways: It indicates her sadness at leaving, it cements in her mind the moral value of her childhood, it shows how thoughts of her family will remain a bright spot during what is to come, and it foreshadows how Agnes’s hopes and wishes will be tested.