Next Article in Journal / Special Issue
Changing by the Click: The Professional Development of UK Journalists
Previous Article in Journal
Self-Efficacy Beliefs of Interdisciplinary Science Teaching (SElf-ST) Instrument: Drafting a Theory-Based Measurement
Previous Article in Special Issue
Towards Professionalism and Police Legitimacy? An Examination of the Education and Training Reforms of the Police in the Republic of Ireland

Educ. Sci. 2019, 9(4), 248;

The Silence, Exile, and Cunning of “I”: An Analysis of Bildungsroman as the Place Model in the Work of Charlotte Brontë and James Joyce
School of Arts & Humanities, Ulster University, Cromore Road, Coleraine, Co. Londonderry BT52 1SA, UK
Authors to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Received: 10 May 2019 / Accepted: 21 August 2019 / Published: 24 September 2019


Education, be that on a moral, social or intellectual level, in a formal setting or via lived experience is Bildungsroman’s raison d’être. ‘Moments of crisis’ and the resultant demonstration of the journey towards awareness of personal autonomy, agency, identity and place are discussed via geographical imagination. This article examines ‘fictional’ teachers, the impact of the ‘professional’ on formative development and how the fictional characters of Jane Eyre and Stephen Dedalus fit within and extend the Place Model.
professions; professionalism; the place model; Bildungsroman; literature; teaching; Brontë; Joyce

1. Introduction

“Who is teaching me today?” and “Is my teacher a professional?” are the two salient questions that Linda Clarke’s Place Model seeks to address [1] (p. 2). Faced with a global threat to the role and position of the teacher in society, her work supplies a means to comprehend the status and level of practice of any individual teacher and to offer a method for the teacher to develop towards a secure professional standing. Based upon the classroom thinking skills technique, Living Graphs, Clarke suggests five main categories where a teacher can chart her or his career pathway [1] (p. 72). These categories consist of ‘Proto-professionals’, ‘No Teacher’, ‘Precarious professionals’, the ‘De-professionalised’, and the ‘Professional’, and then plot the stages where a teacher may be located as they develop, or in some cases fail, to advance in their profession. Clarke argues that this:
…allows every teacher, from the least to the most experienced, to locate themselves within a metaphorical professional landscape and to compare their situation with that of all other teachers—everywhere, living and dead, fictional and real. In this model, two senses of place provide comparative lenses for a timely a priori examination of the place of the teacher:
  • place in the sociological sense of hierarchical status;
  • and also place in the humanistic geography tradition of place as a cumulative process of professional learning within ever-expanding horizons.
[2] (p. 2)
The suggestion that the Place Model could be applied to a fictional individual provides very fertile opportunities for interdisciplinary exchange between pedagogic studies and literary criticism. Approaching the Place Model through this intersection proffers an innovative means in which to examine the role of education within fiction, and to examine particularly those characters who elect to be teachers or whose experience of teaching has profound implications upon their development. In addition, literary exempla and theory provide an original way to interrogate the Place Model and deliver new insights into comprehending how the Model may be understood across a variety of different times and places, and how issues of gender, class, race and nationality may inflect our understanding of how the Place Model may operate.
Clarke’s Model’s focus on place in its sociological and humanistic geography senses is especially germane to the study of the genre of Bildungsroman. Place, it could be argued, is central to both. The Place Model seeks to comprehend any teacher’s examination of their hierarchical status and how they determine a more sustained professional standing. This is analogous to a fictional central character’s quest for their place in the world and the formation of their individuality in the unfolding of a novel. In order to explore the affinity between the Place Model and Bildungsromane, this article examines the role of education in European Bildungsromane, as defined by Marianne Hirsch [3]. Hirsch identifies the European genre’s major historical period as the nineteenth century and its two main strands as German and French/English. While there has been considerable debate in the succeeding decades on how the ‘novel of formation’ developed within Britain and Ireland, Hirsch’s generic model of what constitutes a Bildungsroman has been employed as the means to understand what is meant by this form of fiction [3]. To summarise this classification, ‘a novel of formation’ focuses on an individual character, from a biographical and social point of view. The novel is generally a quest story in which the character seeks meaning, with the development of selfhood as the primary concern of the text. The past experience of the character is approached in an ironic rather than nostalgic manner. Other characters, whether educators, companions or lovers, provide several functions in enabling the development of the central character. The novel serves a didactic purpose in that it educates the reader as they read about the education of the central character [3] (pp. 294–295).
Given the vast literature on this subject, it was thought that two canonical texts from the English language tradition might serve as a means to begin this survey—Brontë’s Jane Eyre and Joyce’s A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man. There are considerable differences between the lives, work and experience of Brontë and Joyce. Born sixty-six years apart (1816 and 1882 respectively), in different countries, with divergent religious, social, political and literary cultures, aside from the obvious link the pair both had with Ireland under the British Empire, it might prove contentious to suggest any association whatsoever. However, the authors share a long history of connection. David Cecil, writing in the 1930s, was one of the first critics to acknowledge this link: “She is our first subjective novelist the ancestor of Proust and Mr James Joyce and all the rest of the historians of the private consciousness” [4] (p. 111). Interestingly, Joyce owned a copy of Jane Eyre when he lived in Trieste [5] (p. 94). And Critics have argued of strong intertextual echoes between this novel and Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man [6].
Charlotte Brontë published Jane Eyre: An Autobiography under the pseudonym of Currer Bell in October 1847 [7]. The book was an immediate success, which ran into three editions in seven months and helped propel the other Brontë sisters, Emily and Anne, into the literary marketplace. Offering a startling first-person account of a woman’s childhood, adolescence and adulthood, Jane Eyre enthralled and shocked a public with its provocative and uncompromising assertion of female agency. Jane Eyre’s memoir is a life story of an articulate, intelligent and self-aware orphan who overcomes the privations and restrictions of the loveless home of her relations—the Reeds. Set in various locations in the north of England in the early nineteenth century, many drawn from Brontë’s own experiences, the novel charts her progress through her schoolyears at the harsh and often pitiless environment of Lowood School to see her train eventually as one of the teaching staff. Ultimately, she leaves to become a governess, and finds love with her employer, the enigmatic Edward Rochester, in whom she finds a sense of profound attachment and equality. Her joy is short lived after the discovery on her wedding day that his first wife is still alive. Fleeing, she fortuitously encounters her cousins and eventually learns of her family history and inheritance. Faced with a loveless partnership with her missionary cousin, St John Rivers, Jane Eyre is reunited with an injured Rochester who has been widowed after his wife had perished in a fire she had set at Gateshead.
Published in 1916, Joyce’s first novel A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man espouses the modernist features that would dominate his seminal work Ulysses, and yet the majority of the narrative is set within the nineteenth century, between the years 1882 and 1903 approximately. Patrick Diskin suggests that the novel “derives more of its inspiration from nineteenth-century fiction than is…generally realised”, due to its autobiographical basis, which he likens to Brontë’s Jane Eyre [6] (p. 94). This is, to use Hirsch’s term, a novel of formation, charting Stephen Dedalus’s education from pre-school to university and his growth both intellectually and emotionally; however, it is also a text that examines one’s place, both metaphorically in the context of ‘self’ and geographically. Don Gifford affirms that “Geography also reflects states of being in A Portrait: the displacement of Stephen’s family from affluent resort village of Bray to the suburban village of Blackrock to increasingly poor Dublin neighborhoods [sic] spells out the gradual decline of the family’s fortunes” [8] (p. 26). Joyce also alludes to the political landscape with reference to figures such as Charles Stewart Parnell, highlighting historical change, a trope often found within Bildungsroman. As Gifford affirms, in 1890 Ireland was approximately ninety per cent Roman Catholic, a numerical majority and yet “at the same time the community was economically and politically in the minority” [8] (p. 9), a reality that in addition finds its way into the education system: “Stephen’s education in A Portrait stands in troublesome contrast to contemporary educational practices” [8] (p. 10).
Analysing these texts enables an understanding of how ‘educators’ within both novels fit within and extend the Place Model. It also draws attention to the profound impact that teachers and education, in addition to physical, social and historical setting, have on the formative development of the individual and how consideration of the fictional world of the novel can be used as a means to reflect upon and engage with the process of pedagogy. The Place Model is highly pertinent when we turn to examining two of the most significant characters from British and Irish Bildungsromane—Jane Eyre and Stephen Dedalus. The novels engage with issues of personal formation which correlate to the realisation of professional praxis in the Place Model. They can be listed as: the connection between the individual and British imperial hegemony; the significance of age, class and gender position upon the individual; and, the extent to which the individual can be mapped on the Place Model. The article will now examine these texts in the following manner. Clarke’s model will first be applied to Jane Eyre in a developmental series of thematic sections. Portrait of the Artist will then be approached as a case study with a sustained analysis of these issues.
Few genres of writing lend themselves as well to the geographical imagination as the Bildungsroman. In Jane Eyre in particular, the reader is offered a particularly profound experience of a fictionalised life recounting its coming to knowledge, self-command and personal authority. Jane Eyre’s account of her life assembles an engaging narrative that asserts the conquering of many obstacles as she moves from orphan, to school child, to assistant teacher, to governess, to missionary, to wife and estate owner [9]. Jane Eyre’s sense of being is plotted intricately alongside her physical and sociological place in the world of the novel. From this, much can be gathered. In the novel, these can be understood to chart her progress on the place model and to use the model as a means to ascertain her gaining of professional and pedagogic standing. The novel lends itself very well to Wenger’s conception of educational imagination: Educational imagination is about not accepting things the way they are, about experimenting and exploring possibilities, reinventing the self, and in the process reinventing the world [10,11] (pp. 272–273; p. 146).
This section will argue that while Jane Eyre’s trajectory can be plotted from Proto-professional to Professional fairly easily, her career pathway presents challenges to a simple lineal advancement from one quadrant to the next and moreover, her attainment of station, sense of well-being and success may be contingent on others failing to do so. For example, there is considerable critical literature that suggests the freedom and autonomy that Jane Eyre gains as an English woman is often at the expense of other women whose race, religion and politics differ from hers [12,13] (p. 361).

2. Jane Eyre as Proto-Professional

Proto-professionalism may be viewed as an early-career transit point for some teachers. Alternatively, for other teachers, it may be a career-long settlement where they will remain because they see this as an uncomplicated and cushy place to become and to be a teacher, or because there is little impetus and/or opportunity to move any further.
[2] (p. 15)
The childhood character of Jane Eyre is tested fairly quickly once she moves to her relations home at Gateshead Hall. It is there that she begins to learn to control her righteous anger at her predicament and to contain desire to retaliate in outbursts against her guardians. At this point, her aptitude for teaching might be called into question. Indeed, given Jane Eyre’s anger and disinclination to fit within her new home, the pre-professional stage of place model might include a test to ascertaining those who might be said to have a vocation for teaching. Initially, it might be said that Jane Eyre has a great incapacity for settling into her place of adoption. One does have considerable sympathy for her, given the sadistic treatment meted out to her by her relatives. Her initial responses to her predicament generate furious responses:
“Dear! dear! What a fury to fly at Master John!” “Did ever anybody see such a picture of passion!” Then Mrs. Reed subjoined—“Take her away to the red-room, and lock her in there”.
[14] (p. 4)
This fury renders her to lose consciousness:
…impatient of my now frantic anguish and wild sobs, abruptly thrust me back and locked me in, without farther parley. I heard her sweeping away; and soon after she was gone, I suppose I had a species of fit: unconsciousness closed the scene.
[14] (p. 8)
This debilitating habit is something that Jane Eyre confronts when she is moved to school at Lowood. While initially it appears that she will be forced to deal with similar villains, she is equipped with friends and mentors who recognise her abilities and potential, and provide her with the means to undergo socialisation and inculcate the teaching and values of the curriculum. Helen Burns and Miss Temple provide her with a caring and supportive network which enables her to settle into the rhythms and working practices of the school. It is worth noting that Brontë does not criticise the subjects taught at the school, but the way in which the school is managed under Mr Brocklehurst and the hunger, depredations and disease that this engenders [15] (p. 175). Jane Eyre is quickly assimilated into a system that can transform capable pupils into monitors, under-teachers, teachers and ultimately superintendents. Once the figure of Brocklehurst is removed, the school becomes a much more germane and humane place to develop as a teacher. Indeed, had Miss Temple never contemplated marriage and left, the school might have become Jane Eyre’s final destination. However, there is a sense that teaching, even being superintendent at Lowood might become too narrow a role for her. Indeed, even a form of “servitude” that must be avoided. Eschewing an easy long-term position at the school enables her to apply for the role of governess at Rochester’s estate. This act of public articulation of her purpose and attainments may be said to extend her professional profile, elevate her potential in terms of specialism and reach, as well as reward her economically and enhance her class profile—all obtained through her individual efforts and not by marriage, or inheritance. She has, in effect, put into practice engaging in a painful but rewarding act of reflection upon her practice which results in a promotion and extension of her scope as a teacher [14] (p. 12).

3. Jane Eyre as No Teacher

Learners with no teacher are the elephant in the model. Their plight is often discussed by development agencies but seldom by the profession itself. Tied to the fact that literally no teacher is teaching approximately 57 million primary-school-age children (roughly equivalent to the entire population of England and Scotland) is the equally disconcerting challenge that an additional 1.6 million teachers (almost the same number as the entire population of Northern Ireland) are needed to achieve universal primary education by 2015.
[2] (p. 18)
I stepped across the rug; he placed me square and straight before him. What a face he had, now that it was almost on a level with mine! what a great nose! and what a mouth! and what large prominent teeth!
[14] (p. 17)
In a novel that is famous for its disregard for physical beauty, it is interesting to note the disinclination felt for Reverend Brocklehurst based on contemplation of his face. This is further emphasised by the unprepossessing phrenological attention to detail of his physiognomy. A further level of caution is introduced with alluding to tropes of fairy tale villains and monsters such as the wolf in Little Red Riding Hood. Jane Eyre’s responses to his inquisition are telling and demonstrate her fearlessness and audacity to counter the inquiries of a loveless patriarchal evangelism. When asked on how she might avoid Hell, Jane Eyre retorts: “What must you do to avoid it?” I deliberated a moment; my answer, when it did come, was objectionable: “I must keep in good health, and not die” [14] (p. 18).
One of Jane Eyre’s great strengths is how it records Jane Eyre’s ability to speak her mind when confronted with a range of antagonists. These moments have a dual purpose for the focus of this article. They act as significant moments in the development of her character as it moves towards maturity in the Bildungsroman and stand as crucial points in her growth as an evolving professional. Brocklehurst is depicted as a poor teacher and Christian through his various acts of hypocrisy. While he does not teach the children directly, his poor management of the school, aligned with his brutal didacticism in his homilies underscore the dangers to society’s most vulnerable in not having a proper principal educator. This is made apparent through his sermonising:
Consistency, madam, is the first of Christian duties; and it has been observed in every arrangement connected with the establishment of Lowood: plain fare, simple attire, unsophisticated accommodations, hardy and active habits; such is the order of the day in the house and its inhabitants.
[14] (p. 19)
Such statements cloak the inhuman conditions the starving pupils and teachers experience and the disease and ill health which such a regime created. His accusation that Jane is a liar in front of the whole school assembly is a further indictment of his inability to teach as he lacks the basic facility to comprehend the true nature of individuals in his charge.

4. Jane Eyre Precarious Professional/Unprofessional-Transitory

This chapter considers the quadrant (see page x) in which teachers have low status and also have not progressed their professional development beyond a very basic initial qualification. Two worrying categories of teachers are discussed in this chapter: those who might be described as unprofessional, and those who are unlikely to remain in the profession—the transitory teachers. In both cases, their position in the teaching profession might be described as precarious.
[2] (p. 26)
The novel underscores how teaching could be a very precarious role for a woman in the nineteenth century and was based in part on the experiences that Brontë had as a teacher herself [16] (pp. 288–9). While Jane Eyre is set prior to a time of professionalism in teaching, and especially before women were permitted to be perceived as professionals, Clarke’s category of the Precarious Professional is very pertinent to understanding Jane Eyre’s role as an educator, and by extension as a human being. Jane Eyre is often placed in very difficult power relationships with family, teachers, managers, employers, and potential life partners. As previously stated, these usually result in heated arguments in which Jane Eyre is forced to defend herself against any number of false accusations. In addition, for a great part of the novel her life choices, as well as her ability to stay in a particular place are dictated by the decisions of others. The novel underscores her often precarious and transitory existence as it draws upon similar tropes in the fairy tale tradition and in John Bunyan’s The Pilgrim’s Progress (1678). It is only when Jane Eyre has independent means that she is capable of making a choice that allows her to assert an ability to decide ultimately on where she will reside and whom she will marry. Up until that point she is constantly at risk of being deprofessionalised. It is interesting to note that deprofessionalisation is associated very strongly with marriage. For instance, Jane Eyre’s agency as a woman, Christian and teacher would be compromised either through a bigamous marriage to Rochester or a loveless role of missionary’s “helpmeet” with St John Rivers.

5. Jane Eyre as Professional

The ideal professional should be able to argue that their role is too complex—too open to innovation, creativity, ambiguity and risk—to be done by robots. They are autonomous, not automatons.
[2] (p. 42)
Jane Eyre’s professional status is very much bound up in her gaining of autonomy and agency. Her autonomy is based on her gaining economic independence and being able to choose her preferred life partner. In a sense then, as a teacher she may well then be a retired “local hero”, in Clarke’s terms, who once had looked after some pupils in a couple of schools and had one charge as a governess. But then this is to perhaps miss completely the significance of the novel. Jane Eyre might equally, if not more profoundly, be a global hero as the novel operates under the conceit that it is an autobiography written by Jane Eyre which narrates her life history from child to mature, fulfilled adult [17] (p. 43). This is a powerful testimony that delivers a number of pedagogic lessons. Firstly, this acts as a reflection on what are important professional values which have been inculcated over a lifetime. It draws on the example set by Helen Burns and by Miss Temple:
she was an exact, clever manager; her household and tenantry were thoroughly under her control; her children only at times defied her authority and laughed it to scorn; she dressed well, and had a presence and port calculated to set off handsome attire.
[14] (p. 20)
Secondly, it shows the immense significance of personal integrity exercised against the failings of powerful antagonists:
If all the world hated you, and believed you wicked, while your own conscience approved you, and absolved you from guilt, you would not be without friends.
[14] (p. 43)
Thirdly, the ability to fuse subject knowledge, with professional values and develop a reflective approach to teaching (as she does with her life) makes her a profound inspiration for readers who too found themselves in similar positions and sought the means to respond to their position in society. This combination of qualities may well then offer a version of an ideal teacher as “an autonomous, accountable, reflective, evidence-based and career-long learner” [18] (p. 50).

6. Jane Eyre as Questionable Global Hero

This chapter outlines the Place Model as an alternative, original way in which both teacher educators and student teachers can begin to consider the singular importance of career-long learning in supporting and sustaining a high-status teaching profession. Those who aspire to become teachers are also challenged to proactively plan and create their own professional learning journey and to ensure that they value both local knowledge and global expertise.
[2] (p. 8)
While there is much that can be commended about the narrative that Jane Eyre offers about her life history and the powerful character that emerges of a woman subverting and overcoming the power structures and limitations of patriarchy, there is much that might cause difficulty for the contemporary reader and teacher. Feminist and Postcolonial analyses of Jane Eyre have found difficulties with what are perceived as Anglocentric, Eurocentric and imperialistic worldviews in the novel. This might produce difficulties for situating Jane Eyre within an international framework today as a paragon for espousing global values for the teaching profession or as a perfect model for depicting the growth of individual selfhood. Jane Eyre’s and Jane Eyre’s views on class, gender, race and empire, though highly radical in 1847, offer challenges if she were to be admitted to a contemporary classroom today. Studies have suggested that Jane’s success may be based upon the losses that others, and those who are othered, must suffer and as such her professional values, reflective practice, indeed interior monologue, may have to be viewed as unreliable and ultimately questionable in a global context.

7. A Portrait of the Artist via a Portrait of the Pedagogue

As Breon Mitchell affirms:
The rise of the Bildungsroman in eighteenth century Germany was closely tied to a lively interest in how to best prepare a young man to take his meaningful and rightful place in society. The word Bild in Bildung had originally referred to a model (in the sense of modern German Vorbild) in terms of which the young man was to be molded [sic]. The first such model was Christ, and Bildung was the process of formation in his spiritual image.
[19] (pp. 63–64)
Jane Eyre exemplifies the characteristics indelible in the Bildungsroman by the end of the eighteenth century, where, as Mitchell attests, formal education is supplanted by life experience in the trajectory of personal growth and experience [19] (pp. 63–64). However, ultimately, education, be that on a moral, social or psychological/intellectual level, in a formal setting or via lived experience/social interaction is the genre’s raison d’être, which calls attention to the Place Model’s query, Who is teaching me today?
James Joyce, similar to Brontë, foregrounds the patriarchal sense of education, notably in A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man; and it may be suggested that it is the experience of formal education that is central to the development of Stephen Dedalus. The novel’s Latin epigraph, “Et ignotas animum dimittit in artes” (and he sets his mind to work upon unknown arts), taken from Ovid’s Metamorphoses, Book Eight, immediately draws our attention to the mythical dimension of Dedalus’s name, with its links to the great artificer and his rebellious fallen son, Icarus, and the flight and fall structural rhythm of the novel which Gifford discusses [8] (p. 129); however, it also highlights a key point, which undermines the concept of the Bildungsroman: our protagonist falls. Education, indeed negative pedagogy, is the catalyst for change here, an interesting revelation in a period where the education system was being utilised for reformation and, in particular, professionalisation. As John Nash attests, “Schools such as Belvedere and Clongowes [which both appear in Portrait] were, in general, consciously training a new strata of middle-class Catholics: educated and professional, supporters of Home Rule and defenders of the Church yet at the same time ‘a little bit English’, trained to play English games and, often, taught from an English syllabus” [20] (p. 65). Joyce’s critique of pedagogy is interesting, especially given the fact that he himself was a teacher, and left Ireland for a post at the Berlitz School in Zurich. In her study on Joyce’s teaching life and methods, Elizabeth Switaj discusses Joyce’s intent on exposing the impact of authoritarian teaching:
Rather than expressing a set of thought-through ideals, these scenes of pedagogy show, in nascent form, a resistance to authoritarianism and other traditional aspects of teaching that will develop in Ulysses and Finnegans Wake into ideals about power and exchange in teaching and learning that he could more clearly articulate and his audience more readily identify.
[21] (pp. 42–43)
The concept of the professional in Joyce’s work is challenged, as those in authority, and in particular those in institutions of learning, are exposed as not only precarious professionals, in the sense of the Place Model, but precarious individuals per se, raising the question, “is it better to have no teacher at all than the damaging, unprofessional teacher?” [2] (p. 26).
The unfolding of the infant consciousness depicted in the opening pages, posits the patriarchal instructor in the formation of identity; Stephen’s father uses the art of storytelling, with added neologisms, to open his son’s mind to the concept of identity, ‘He was baby tuckoo’ [22] (p. 7). Hence begins a preoccupation with place and the concept of self which continues into Ulysses, and is highlighted in the opening chapter when Stephen writes his name and address, which includes “Ireland, Europe, The World, The Universe” [22] (p. 17), on his geography notebook. This need to articulate name and place is conveyed again in the second chapter, interestingly at a point when he is increasingly becoming alienated from his father, “I am Stephen Dedalus. I am walking beside my father whose name is Simon Dedalus. We are in Cork, in Ireland” [22] (p. 105). Familial pedagogy, occupying the position of ‘No Teacher’, could easily facilitate a new term within the Place Model, ‘Precarious Instructor’. Portrait illustrates the impact of conflicting information, as Stephen endeavours to disentangle and comprehend conflating views on religion, politics and nationality, as espoused by his father, mother, governess and uncle: “It pained him that he did not know well what politics meant and that he did not know where the universe ended. He felt small and weak” [22] (p. 18).
Lack of composite instruction, or valuable mentoring is evident throughout Stephen’s schooling. As Clarke affirms:
Mentor was the name of Ulysses’s friend. He was asked to take care of Telemachus, Ulysses’s son, during his father’s absence at the Trojan wars. Taking care did not mean simply looking after in a passive way but more in the proactive sense of becoming a role model for Telemachus—helping him develop the skills and knowledge he would need in later life.
[2] (p. 11)
And interestingly, in Joyce’s Ulysses, Stephen Dedalus is representative of Telemachus. The mentor is not solely for proto-professionals, but essential throughout the professional learning journey; and indeed, it is not only a mentor that is required, but a ‘professional mentor’, one who will enable the development of the right skills and appropriate knowledge; one who will encourage independent thinking, challenge precarious (education) systems or methods and contest the “paternalistic teacher-student relationship” [23] (p. 14). In this regard, Stephen functions as a mentor to his peers at various points, most notably following his beating at the hands of Father Dolan, a punishment which was undeserved, described as “unjust, and cruel and unfair” [22] (p. 60), highlighting Clarke’s ‘precarious professional’ with the characteristic use of corporal punishment [2] (p. 27); Stephen’s subsequent reporting of the incident to the rector, at the behest of his friends, is a victory and subversion of the ‘natural’ order, resulting in the boys hoisting him above their heads. This challenge against the ‘professional’ highlights Stephen’s individuality and early break with authoritarian and patriarchal systems. As Shaull contends, and as Joyce illustrates,
There is no such thing as a neutral educational process. Education either functions as an instrument that is used to facilitate the integration of the younger generation into the logic of the present system and bring about conformity to it, or it becomes “the practice of freedom,” the means by which men and women deal critically and creatively with reality and discover how to participate in the transformation of their world.
[23] (p. 16)
The educational process at Clongowes and Belvedere College ultimately facilitates freedom, not through an adherence to that process but rather via the transgression of it. The ‘professionals’ which Stephen encounters, including those who may be described as precarious and de-professionalised, serve as models for what Stephen knows he does not want to be. Although he briefly considers the priesthood, he recognises his inability to become integrated within the system: “His soul had risen from the grave of boyhood, spurning her graveclothes…He would create proudly out of the freedom and power of his soul, as the great artificer whose name he bore, a living thing, new and soaring and beautiful, impalpable, imperishable” [22] (p. 193). The university education compounds the process, culminating in his declaration, “I will not serve that in which I no longer believe, whether it call itself my home, my fatherland, or my church” [22] (p. 281).
Portrait ends with Stephen’s decision to leave Ireland, abandoning the ‘professions’ for the life of an artist, and therefore it is ironic that when we encounter him again in Ulysses he has returned to Ireland and is teaching. Portrait’s Bildungsroman label is thoroughly challenged, as Stephen’s formative years do not produce ‘the artist’ of the title but rather an aspiring artist, or perhaps a ‘fallen’ one. Here we are reminded of George Bernard Shaw’s adage, “He who can, does. He who cannot, teaches” [24] (p. 213), which raises the question posed by Eric Holye, and which the Place Model interrogates, “Is teaching a profession?” [2,25]. Kiberd states that Stephen “has become one of those bad teachers whom he warned against” [26] (p. 55). Stephen does not fit the traditional mould of the pedagogue and as a ‘professional’ his ‘otherness’ is noted. His statement at the beginning of episode three in Ulysses, “Signatures of all things I am here to read” [27] (p. 56), highlights his position; he is a ‘professional learner’, not that this will enable him to progress to “extended global teacher-learner”, as detailed in the Place Model, because fundamentally he is not invested in teaching but rather in learning, and learning that will benefit his journey towards ‘artist’ as opposed to pedagogue. He misses the reality, summarised by Kiberd, that “In a true pedagogy, tradition is the medium in which the learner changes constantly into the teacher, and vice versa” [26] (p. 55). As Mr Deasy, the Headmaster, proclaims, “You were not born to be a teacher, I think—A learner rather, Stephen said” [27] (p. 53). The desire to learn and the prominence of esoteric thought makes Stephen’s oft-quoted statement, “History,…, is a nightmare from which I am trying to awake” [27] (p. 52) questionable; often interpreted as a desire to escape the past, it may be suggested that it is not history per se that he is trying to escape but rather the teaching of it, considering this statement is made during the exchange with Mr Deasy.
The Anglo-Irish, pro-unionist, Mr Deasy himself transverses the position of the precarious professional and the de-professionalised, and Joyce amplifies his bigotry and anti-Semitism, tropes that will be developed throughout the text and interestingly are posited at the beginning in a formal education setting. His comment that, “England is in the hands of the jews. In all the highest places: her finance, her press. And they are the signs of a nation’s decay” [27] (pp. 50–51), foreshadows the text’s revelation that our main protagonist, and ‘hero’, Leopold Bloom, will himself have Jewish origins. Negative comments espoused by the head teacher to a junior member of staff highlight the potential destructive culture cultivated, reinforced and taught within the confines of a formal institution. Stephen’s ‘otherness’ aligns him with Bloom, and his need to escape the servitude of two masters, English and Italian, highlights his desire to flee all systems of oppression: political, religious and educational. As Kiberd affirms, “Joyce’s entire work is a sustained meditation on true and false pedagogy, and on how best the young may learn from their elders” [26] (p. 54).

8. Conclusions

Bildungsroman enables both Brontë and Joyce to position their protagonists within metaphorical ‘professional’ landscapes and demonstrate the impact of the ‘professional’ on formative development. Education, including formal, social, moral and intellectual becomes a ‘practice of freedom’ and a conduit for locating self and place within society; it enables Jane Eyre to become integrated to an extent and cultivates Stephen Dedalus’s marginalisation and ‘otherness’, confirming Wenger’s conception of educational imagination. Ultimately, both writers challenge us to interrogate the value and meaning of the term ‘professional’, and fundamentally assess our motivation for professionalisation, especially when the professional is endowed with negative connotations. Burstow and Maguire argue for teachers becoming “agents of change” [2,28], which transgresses negative pedagogy and authoritarian oppression, enabling Paulo Freire’s vision, as detailed by Shaull:
Freire incarnates a rediscovery of the humanizing vocation of the intellectual, and demonstrates the power of thought to negate accepted limits and open the way to a new future…man’s ontological vocation is to be a Subject who acts upon and transforms his world.
[23] (p. 14)
Is this, the portrait of the artist or rather the paradigm for the ‘inclusive professional’? Autonomy, creativity, awareness of self and place, and knowledge of professional destiny constitutes professionalisation, and the creation of a new category within the Place Model. It suggests that powerful correspondences exist between the Place Model and the novel of formation which creatively inform the search to determine who might be teaching me today and how professional that pedagogue may be.

Author Contributions

The Introduction (Section 1) was written by F.F. and K.W.; Section 2, Section 3, Section 4, Section 5 and Section 6, which focus on Jane Eyre were authored by F.F.; Section 7 which focuses on A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man was written by K.W.; the Conclusion (Section 8) was co-authored.


This research received no external funding.


Thanks to Linda Clarke for her support and encouragement in the research and writing of this article.

Conflicts of Interest

The authors declare no conflict of interest.


  1. Clarke, L. Mapping teacher status and career-long professional learning: The Place Model. Discourse Stud. Cult. Polit. Educ. 2018, 39, 69–83. [Google Scholar] [CrossRef]
  2. Clarke, L. Teacher Status and Professional Learning: The Place Model; Critical Publishing: Northwich, UK, 2016; Available online: (accessed on 7 August 2019).
  3. Hirsch, M. The Novel of Formation as Genre: Between Great Expectations and Lost Illusions. Genre 1979, 12, 293–311. [Google Scholar]
  4. Cecil, D. Early Victorian Novelists; Constable & Co.: London, UK, 1936. [Google Scholar]
  5. Schwarze, T.T. Female Complaints: ′Mad Women′ Malady and Resistance in Joyce’s Dublin in R. Brandon Kershner. In Cultural Studies of James Joyce; Rodopi: Amsterdam, The Netherlands, 2003; pp. 91–116. [Google Scholar]
  6. Diskin, P. Joyce and Charlotte Bronte. Notes Queries 1966, 13, 94–95. [Google Scholar] [CrossRef]
  7. Alexander, C. “Brontë [Married Name Nicholls], Charlotte [Pseud. Currer Bell] (1816–1855), Novelist”. Oxford Dictionary of National Biography. 23 September 2004. Available online: (accessed on 1 August 2019).
  8. Gifford, D. Joyce Annotated: Notes for Dubliners and A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man, 2nd ed.; University of California Press: Berkeley, CA, USA, 1982. [Google Scholar]
  9. Brontë, C. Jane Eyre, an Autobiography; Smith, Elder & Co.: London, UK, 1847. [Google Scholar]
  10. Castle, G. A History of the Bildungsroman. In The Modernist Bildungsroman; Graham, Ed.; Cambridge University Press: Cambridge, UK, 2019; pp. 143–173. [Google Scholar]
  11. Wenger, E. Communities of Practice: Learning, Meaning, and Identity; Cambridge University Press: Cambridge UK, 1998. [Google Scholar]
  12. Gilbert, S.M.; Gubar, S. The Madwoman in the Attic: The Woman Writer and the Nineteenth-Century Literary Imagination; Yale University Press: New Haven, CT, USA, 2000. [Google Scholar]
  13. Park, Y.-M.; Rajan, R.S. The Postcolonial Jane Austen; Routledge: Abingdon-on-Thames, UK, 2015. [Google Scholar]
  14. Brontë, C. Jane Eyre, Kindle, ed.; Morrisville, NC, USA, 2016. [Google Scholar]
  15. Barker, J. The Brontës; Phoenix: London, UK, 1995. [Google Scholar]
  16. Thormällen, M. The Brontës and Education; Cambridge University Press: Cambridge, UK, 2011. [Google Scholar]
  17. Craina, V. What Jane Eyre Taught: The ′Autobiographer′ In Jane Eyre and Women’s Education. BAS Br. Am. Stud. 2015, 21, 39–47. [Google Scholar]
  18. Malderez, A.; Wedell, M. Teaching Teachers: Processes and Practices; A&C Black: New York, NY, USA, 2007. [Google Scholar]
  19. Mitchell, B. ‘A Portrait and the Bildungsroman Tradition’. In Approaches to Joyce’s Portrait: Ten Essays; Staley, T.F., Benstock, B., Eds.; University of Pittsburgh Press: Pittsburgh, PA, USA, 1976; pp. 61–76. [Google Scholar]
  20. Nash, J. James Joyce and the Act of Reception: Reading, Ireland, Modernism; Cambridge University Press: Cambridge, UK, 2006. [Google Scholar]
  21. Switaj, E. James Joyce’s Teaching Life and Methods: Language and Pedagogy in a Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man, Ulysses, and Finnegans Wake; Palgrave Macmillan: London, UK, 2016. [Google Scholar]
  22. Joyce, J. The Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man; Penguin Books: London, UK, 1996. [Google Scholar]
  23. Shaull, R. ‘Forward’ in Freire. P. Pedagogy of the Oppressed; Penguin Books: London, UK, 1996; pp. 11–16. [Google Scholar]
  24. Shaw, G.B. Man and Superman: A Comedy and Philosophy; Constable and Company Limited: London, UK, 1947. [Google Scholar]
  25. Hoyle, E. The Professionalization of Teachers: A Paradox in Is Teaching a Profession; Bedford Way Papers; Gordon, P., Ed.; University of London, Institute of Education: London, UK, 1983; pp. 44–54. [Google Scholar]
  26. Kiberd, D. Ulysses and Us: The Art of Everyday Living; Faber and Faber: London, UK, 2009. [Google Scholar]
  27. Joyce, J. Ulysses; David Campbell Publishers Ltd.: London, UK, 1992. [Google Scholar]
  28. Burstow, B.; Maguire, M. ‘Disentangling What It Means to Be a Teacher in the Twenty-First Century: Policy and Practice in Teachers’ Continuing Professional Learning’. In Workplace Learning in Teacher Education: International Practice and Policy; McNamara, O., Murray, J., Jones, M., Eds.; Springer: New York, NY, USA, 2014; pp. 103–119. [Google Scholar]

© 2019 by the authors. Licensee MDPI, Basel, Switzerland. This article is an open access article distributed under the terms and conditions of the Creative Commons Attribution (CC BY) license (
Back to TopTop