Literature / Agnes Grey

Agnes Grey is a 1847 novel written by Anne Brontë, the least well-known Brontë sister. Her first novel, it told the story of her own experience as a governess. The main character, Agnes, is the daughter of a minister who loses his money. She gets one of the only jobs available to women at the time, being a governess for rich families. The book recounts realistically what a governess had to put up with at the time.

Tropes related to the book:

  • Attention Whore: Rosalie Murray
  • Beauty Equals Goodness: Agnes ponders this trope a lot.
  • Bratty Half Pints
  • Character Title
  • Creepy Child: Tom Bloomfield loves torturing baby birds and small animals... and then his parents get mad at Agnes for interfering with their son's fun!
  • Desperately Looking for a Purpose in Life: Agnes
  • Does This Remind You of Anything?: Rosalie Murray prevents Agnes from seeing her Prince Charming Mr. Weston by giving her too much work to do.
  • Emotionless Girl: Agnes has to become this in order to survive being in charge of the 3 sociopathic Bloomfield children.
  • Fallen Princess: Agnes's mother; possibly a Rebellious Princess since she fell of her own free will in order to marry her husband.
  • The Hedonist: Tom Bloomfield is a young, violent version; Rosalie Murray is an older, more devious version. Rich, aloof parents in general seem determined to raise their children to be this by never disciplining them and refusing to permit anyone else to.
  • Hopeless Suitor: Mr. Hatfield for Rosalie Murray
  • Hurting Heroine
  • Hypocrite: Mr. Hatfield, the Horton rector
  • Kick the Dog: We know Mr. Hatfield is no truly pious Christian because he kicks Nancy's cat and Agnes' dog. Mr. Weston, on the other hand, treats said cat and dog quite tenderly and even rescues each of them once.
  • The Lad-ette: Matilda Murray, which, needless to say given the setting, does not go over well for her.
  • Love Hurts
  • Manipulative Bitch: Rosalie Murray, bordering on The Vamp.
  • Marry for Love: Agnes tries to get Rosalie Murray to accept this; she fails.
  • Nice to the Waiter: Mr. Weston doesn't treat Agnes like she's invisible just because she's a governess.
  • No Accounting for Taste: Rosalie Murray's marriage to Sir Thomas Ashby.
  • Parental Marriage Veto: The backstory and a running plot thread: when Agnes's mother chose to marry a poor parson, she was disowned by her father (despite annual visits with her daughters to her childhood home, they never even saw him).
  • The Pollyanna: Agnes keeps her pluckiness through the entire book, despite all the crap she puts up with.
  • Reality Is Unrealistic: The preface for her second novel (The Tenant of Wildfell Hall) mentions that "...the story of ‘Agnes Grey’ was accused of extravagant over-colouring in those very parts that were carefully copied from the life, with a most scrupulous avoidance of all exaggeration..."
  • Rich Bitch: Rosalie Murray — how else would you describe a girl who has every man in town except one wrapped around her finger, and not only determines to make that one want her despite not caring the least bit about him, but deliberately strives to keep a girl she knows has genuine feelings for him from getting to see him?
  • Screw the Money, I Have Rules!: After Mr. Grey's death, his wife receives a letter from her father telling her she can come back and her daughters will be heiresses if she will just say that she regrets marrying. All three Grey women (she would have done it had her daughters wanted the money) tell him to go to hell.
  • Spoiled Brats: All of the children she ends up being a governess to.
  • Tomboy and Girly Girl: Matilda and Rosalie Murray
  • True Beauty Is on the Inside
  • Two Words: I Can't Count: Rosalie Murray describes Mr Weston negatively. Her animosity leads her to describe four negative traits instead of the three she announced. She corrects herself immediately after.
    "I can give you his description in three words ... an insensate, ugly, stupid blockhead. That's four, but no matter..."
  • Umbrella of Togetherness: Rosalie Murray thinks she has Mr. Weston wrapped around her finger as securely as every man in town, but Agnes is the one who he walks to the carriage with his umbrella.
  • Will They or Won't They?: Agnes and Edward Weston They do, after falling out of touch for a spell.