Vinsamlegast notið þetta auðkenni þegar þið vitnið til verksins eða tengið í það: http://hdl.handle.net/1946/34760
People’s roles changed along with the changing economy in the nineteenth century. Men started to work outside the home, the “public sphere,” while women took care of the home, the “private sphere.” When the father’s finances could not support the whole family, his daughters would have to earn their own living, and the only respectable way to do that for the middle-class woman was to become a governess. The position of the governess was often confusing since the women who occupied the post originally came from the same class as the family they worked for. There do not appear to be many records of real governesses at the time: Agnes Grey and Mary Wollstonecraft were governesses in the late eighteenth century while Charlotte Bronte was a governess in the middle of the nineteenth century. With more women becoming governesses in the nineteenth century and the position reaching the middle-class as opposed to being reserved only for the aristocracy, more and more novels and stories emerged with governess characters. The genre of the governess emerged in the middle of the nineteenth century in the Feminine stage of women’s literature. In literature, governesses are often depicted as either good or evil; the sex of the author of the novels often reflects whether the governess is good or evil. In the novel Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte, Jane is considered an “angel of the house”, so is Agnes from Anne Bronte’s Agnes Grey. Lydia Gwilt from Wilkie Collins’s Armadale is a “demon in the house” as well Rebecca Sharp from William Makpeace’s Vanity Fair. Furthermore, Rebecca is often compared to a snake, which can be connected to the snake of Eden. The governess’s position in society was a conflicting one, and this is reflected in nineteenth-century literature where governesses are often depicted as either good or evil, angels or demons.
Key words: Governess, Literature, Nineteenth Century, Woman, Angel, Demon, Class.