In this chapter we look at the quality which, above all others, made Charlotte Brontë’s writing distinct from the work of her predecessors and contemporaries. Her work was admired, as it is still today, for its vivid realisation of experience, and in particular for her ability to put the souls of her characters before us. Where other writers exerted themselves to depict social conditions or manners, Charlotte Brontë chose instead to delve into the mysterious and deceptive world of the psychology of her heroines. This was not solely a matter of choice: she had not, she felt, the experience to write about the world at large; but she knew that she understood the heart.
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