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Beyond support, the more tangible benefits of a shared experience of authorship are evident in the improvement in Jane Eyre after Charlotte's first novel The Professor. Both Anne and Emily had completed their first novels before Charlotte wrote Jane Eyre and in the powerful narrative of Charlotte's heroine Jane we might see, for example, the shadow of the direct first-person narrative of Anne's Agnes Grey (Charlotte had no precedent for the female narrator in any of her juvenilia). And as different as Jane Eyre is from Wuthering Heights, Charlotte's novel shows signs of debt to the unashamed passion and supernatural interests of Wuthering Heights and to the poetic force of Emily's prose.

4 Nevertheless, the device created many more problems than it solved. As with Gilbert Markham in Anne Bronte's The Tenant of Wildfell Hall, the masculine perception of Crimsworth in The Professor is too often implausible, particularly in its detailed acquaintance with feminine minutiae. Both sisters try too hard to underscore the maleness of their narrator. In The Professor this strain is obvious from the outset in the letter which opens the novel. Striving for authenticity, it offers a succession of'masculine' touchstones - education at Eton, an awkward incorporation of classical reference: 'certainly I never experienced anything of the Pylades and Orestes sentiment for you' (1) and a certain swaggering tone: 'you shall hear, if you choose to listen, how the world has wagged with me' (1).

A tension is evident in the novel's opening between the desire to establish Crimsworth's male bona fides and the wish to emphasise his atypical status as a man: I soon saw also that there was more than girlish - a somewhat infantine expression in her by no means small THE PROFESSOR 41 features; this lisp and expression were, I have no doubt, a charm in Edward's eyes, and would be so to those of most men, but they were not to mine. I sought her eye, desirous to read there the intelligence which I could not discern in her face or hear in her conversation; it was merry, rather small; by turns I saw vivacity, vanity, coquetry, look out through its irid, but I watched in vain for a glimpse of soul.

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