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ICOS 2008 Conference Abstract

First Names of Fictional Characters in Novels by Charlotte Bronte

Author(s):
H Barry III
University of Pittsburgh, United States

An author who selects the first name of a person for a fictional character forms a subjective connection between the namesakes. More than two dozen first names were the same for a fictional character and an important acquaintance of Charlotte Bronte. In two of the four novels, "The Professor" and "Villette," the fictional English narrator taught and loved in Brussels, Belgium.

Four examples follow. Charlotte Bronte's only fictional Charlotte, who is briefly mentioned in "Villette," plans a romantic and imprudent marriage. Frances Atkinson was godmother of Charlotte Bronte. In "The Professor," the fictional Frances Evans Henri marries the narrator. Edward Carter was a hospitable vicar. In "Jane Eyre," the fictional Edward Rochester eventually marries Jane Eyre. Charlotte Bronte rejected a marriage proposal by an Irish curate, David Bryce. In "Shirley," the fictional David Sweeting is a likable Irish curate.

The connections between the namesakes are selective, not comprehensive. Charlotte Bronte revealed that a family member or acquaintance was the model for more than two dozen fictional characters given a different first name and surname. An example is that Monsieur Constantin Heger, whom Charlotte Bronte loved, was the model for the fictional Professor Paul Carlos David Emanuel in "Villette."

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