“By the Sweat of One’s Brow”
DOI link for “By the Sweat of One’s Brow”
“By the Sweat of One’s Brow” book
There is an interval of exactly thirty years between the death of Jane Austen in 1817 and the publication of Charlotte Bronte's Jane Eyre in 1847. Bronte's observation is accurate in the sense that she points out Austen's proto-realism and the absence of any "bright, vivid physiognomy" in her novels. This chapter demonstrates the importance in The Professor of the parallel between reading texts and reading faces, and how the ability to speak the language of physiognomics serves to distinguish an elite few from the uneducated masses. It discusses foreignness, William Crimsworth's status as a social outsider, and how physiognomics offers him both the status of possessing innate qualities and the potential for self-improvement. Crimsworth's skilfulness at self-assertion, the first reason for his physiognomic competitiveness, derives from his experience of life as an outsider. Since Crimsworth, the outsider, has no power in terms of social status, fortune he must make his way through life "by the sweat of his brow".