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   The Victorian era in which Charlotte lived was not conducive to the success or independence of woman. The prevailing notions of a woman's 'duty' would surely be in conflict with the need to develop a profession mien and standing. Herbert Sussman referred to the conflict of women attempting to make a professional statement during the Victorian era as "a desperate if vain endeavor to achieve sharp gender classification" (376). The maudlin spirit of Charlotte Bronte has been attested to by many over the years, perhaps being based on the biography by Elizabeth Gaskell, perhaps seeing it as a reflection of the characters in her stories. The lack of recognition as an author of note must surely have rankled a woman of obvious intelligence and opinion. Her inability to claim authorship was connected to the cultural definition of woman in Victorian society.

     It is difficult to know what demons or sadness dwells within the heart of a person like Charlotte Bronte, other than to surmise what could have effected her so (although, considering that her sisters also had the reputation of being sullen or melancholy, it is not unreasonable to consider a genetic cause for her frequent depressions). Gaskell saw Charlotte, after the deaths of her sisters, as a woman who chose to lead an existence of perpetual personal sacrifice which she shared with her closest friend, Ellen Nussey, "strengthening each other in that power of self-denial, that hallowed and glowing devotion, which the first saints often attained to" (Gaskell 177). Sainthood was probably not on the agenda for Charlotte, however, she seemed to want to replicate the closeness she had with her sisters in establishing strong friendships with both Ellen Nussey and Elizabeth Gaskell.


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