Apart from moral values and social conditions perceived in this novel, there is a great glimpse on subjects of women leading an independent life (as seen in Mrs. Grey, Agnes’s mother) and religious devotion as well. Surely Anne Brontë must have exerted her personal experience to make this novel a complete semi-autobiography.
There are some inspiring statements in relation to the preaching styles and evangelical standpoints in the story, especially in Chapter XI where Agnes the heroine visits Nancy Brown, one of the poor cottagers of the town (Agnes shares some similarities with Nancy as being the neglected one in the case of a governess). Here she heard the good deeds of Mr. Weston, the curate of the town, compared to the rector named Mr. Hatfield, who holds no regard for devotees of lower inferiority. I have done some research on this matter and find that Brontë tends to criticise the notion of the High Church (Ritualism-Tractarian) that is habitual in attacking Methodism in a considerably great deal. It involves some kind of Oxford Movement at that time, and I may study more in future. However, it is important to note that in Anne’s viewpoint, Christianity should be a notion of universal salvation, instead of a constant damnation to parishioners in inferiority.
Mr. Weston the curate, as well as the love interest of Agnes Grey, is a favourite character of mine (always love a Victorian Romance!). To me this unassuming and self-effacing character is no trivial matter in the story; he serves as an important role in evincing the desire, passion, and poignancy of Agnes, as well as the only companion of hers in Horton Lodge. It is humorous sometimes to think that Agnes would actually question her love and devotion to God in comparison with Mr. Weston!
“Sometimes, such thoughts would give me trouble enough; but sometimes I could quiet them with thinking—it is not the man, it is his goodness that I love. ‘Whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are honest and of good report, think on these things.’ We do well to worship God in His works; and I know none of them in which so many of His attributes—so much of His own spirit shines, as in this His faithful servant; whom to know and not to appreciate, were obtuse insensibility in me, who have so little else to occupy my heart.” (Chapter XVI)
I especially love the poem composed by Agnes Grey of Mr. Weston, which convinces us that a good love and partner of soul is well worth the wait.
“Oh, they have robbed me of the hope
My spirit held so dear;
They will not let me hear that voice
My soul delights to hear.
They will not let me see that face
I so delight to see;
And they have taken all thy smiles,
And all thy love from me.
Well, let them seize on all they can;—
One treasure still is mine,—
A heart that loves to think on thee,
And feels the worth of thine.”
Agnes Grey, overall, is an enjoyable novel and enlightening moral lesson of overcoming difficulties in ways of bearing it with fortitude, remaining in faith with the inner self, sticking to the human integrity and virtue will get its own reward. Most of all, never be thwarted and vanish your hope in all aspect of life.