I've dreamt in my life dreams that have stayed with me ever after, and changed my ideas: they've gone through and through me, like wine through water, and altered the color of my mind.
Emily Bronte
Wuthering Heights

maandag 25 juli 2011

Faith and Emily Bronte II

On one of the social media I found a question about Emily Bronte. The question: ""What kind of a believe did Emily had?  Was she a pagan?  I am going to search for an answer.

What is paganism? www.nl.paganfederation.org
Paganism is a religion of nature, in other words Pagans revere Nature. Pagans see the divine as immanent in the whole of life and the universe; in every tree, plant, animal and object, man and woman and in the dark side of life as much as in the light. Pagans live their lives attuned to the cycles of Nature, the seasons, life and death. http://www.crystalinks.com/paganism.html

Brontë claims she stood in the glow of heaven and the 'glare' of hell and forged her own path between 'scraph's song and demon's groan'. Only 'thy soul alone' can know the truth, and her appeal to 'My thoughtful Comforter' is not an appeal to God, but to her enigmatic male muse which governs her spiritual belief. He is epitomised by the life-giving 'soft air' and 'thawwind melting quietly' and lovingly around her. She is grateful that her 'visitants' allow her 'savage heart' to grow 'meek' and allow her to conform to the role she is forced to play within an ordered Christian and patriarchal system. Her poetry focuses on the betrayals of mind and body, as she seeks to find answers to questions that her society does not permit her to ask. Brontë's religious symbolism and unique spirituality show a form of pantheistic atheism, although she continued to attend a church 'whilst sitting as motionless as a statue' and it seems that this careful passivity is juxtaposed with uncontained anger and frustrated passions (Chitham, p. 156).

Brontë's male muse is intrinsically linked to the moors and attached to the eastern wind blowing across them. The wind is tied to the spiritual essence of a god. Her sensual relationship with her muse appears to have been 'threatening as well as inspiring' and enveloped her poetry with deep longing and a desire for fulfilment (Victorian Women Poets, p. 89). Brontë's spiritual belief and secular spiritualism is symbolised by her love of nature and typified by 'shadows of the dead' which she sees around her.

Gilbert and Gubar see Emily Brontë's poetry and beliefs as threatening the rigidly hierarchical state of heaven and hell, and Brontë believed that the dead remained on the earth and moved around her (Gilbert & Gubar, p. 255). She also saw dead friends and family watching her at night, and this dream-like sleepy other reality has some similarities with Christina Rossetti's 'soul-sleep' (Victorian Women Poets, p. 176).
Read on: .http://www.victorianweb.org/authors/bronte/ebronte

This is the first time I read:  
  • dead friends and family watching her at night..................... where comes this idea from??????
  • Emily Brontë clung to her distinctly male identity. Brontë's alter ego was a masculine one.I never thought of Emily and a masculine alter ego.......................

"... and Hareton is thrown in by the way in sheer opulence of imagination. It is not insisted on. Redemption is not the keynote of  ""Wuthering Heights"". The moral problem never entered into Emily Bronte's head. You may call her what you will--Pagan, pantheist, transcendentalist mystic and worshipper of earth, she slips from all your formulas. She reveals a point of view above good and evil. Hers is an attitude of tolerance that is only not tenderness because her acceptance ..."


A pagan above all she was: the centuries of revelation behind her seem not to have won a glance of question or of recognition; Christianity, taking its place with "the thousand creeds that move men's hearts", must have been found with them "unutterably vain", nor does she even momentarily seem to turn from the sin and suffering of humanity to the picture of a suffering but sinless God. Indeed the religion of meditation and sacrament and self-surrender could never have won a possible assent from one who shunned so resolutely the common pledges and submissions of daily life. Only in [362] her infinite forbearance with, and compassion for the victims of weakness and vanity and passion, does she touch that eternally uplifted figure which hangs between earth and heaven to link inseparably the human with the divine. We cannot but remember that it was not Charlotte, but the pagan Emily, who to the last protected and forgave the sorry wreck who, once the pride, had come to be the terror of their home. It was she who achieved his epitaph wherein we read, almost amazed, the plea for weakness penned by one who so accounted strength:

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The Parlour

The Parlour



Charlotte Bronte

Presently the door opened, and in came a superannuated mastiff, followed by an old gentleman very like Miss Bronte, who shook hands with us, and then went to call his daughter. A long interval, during which we coaxed the old dog, and looked at a picture of Miss Bronte, by Richmond, the solitary ornament of the room, looking strangely out of place on the bare walls, and at the books on the little shelves, most of them evidently the gift of the authors since Miss Bronte's celebrity. Presently she came in, and welcomed us very kindly, and took me upstairs to take off my bonnet, and herself brought me water and towels. The uncarpeted stone stairs and floors, the old drawers propped on wood, were all scrupulously clean and neat. When we went into the parlour again, we began talking very comfortably, when the door opened and Mr. Bronte looked in; seeing his daughter there, I suppose he thought it was all right, and he retreated to his study on the opposite side of the passage; presently emerging again to bring W---- a country newspaper. This was his last appearance till we went. Miss Bronte spoke with the greatest warmth of Miss Martineau, and of the good she had gained from her. Well! we talked about various things; the character of the people, - about her solitude, etc., till she left the room to help about dinner, I suppose, for she did not return for an age. The old dog had vanished; a fat curly-haired dog honoured us with his company for some time, but finally manifested a wish to get out, so we were left alone. At last she returned, followed by the maid and dinner, which made us all more comfortable; and we had some very pleasant conversation, in the midst of which time passed quicker than we supposed, for at last W---- found that it was half-past three, and we had fourteen or fifteen miles before us. So we hurried off, having obtained from her a promise to pay us a visit in the spring... ------------------- "She cannot see well, and does little beside knitting. The way she weakened her eyesight was this: When she was sixteen or seventeen, she wanted much to draw; and she copied nimini-pimini copper-plate engravings out of annuals, ('stippling,' don't the artists call it?) every little point put in, till at the end of six months she had produced an exquisitely faithful copy of the engraving. She wanted to learn to express her ideas by drawing. After she had tried to draw stories, and not succeeded, she took the better mode of writing; but in so small a hand, that it is almost impossible to decipher what she wrote at this time.

I asked her whether she had ever taken opium, as the description given of its effects in Villette was so exactly like what I had experienced, - vivid and exaggerated presence of objects, of which the outlines were indistinct, or lost in golden mist, etc. She replied, that she had never, to her knowledge, taken a grain of it in any shape, but that she had followed the process she always adopted when she had to describe anything which had not fallen within her own experience; she had thought intently on it for many and many a night before falling to sleep, - wondering what it was like, or how it would be, - till at length, sometimes after the progress of her story had been arrested at this one point for weeks, she wakened up in the morning with all clear before her, as if she had in reality gone through the experience, and then could describe it, word for word, as it had happened. I cannot account for this psychologically; I only am sure that it was so, because she said it. ----------------------She thought much of her duty, and had loftier and clearer notions of it than most people, and held fast to them with more success. It was done, it seems to me, with much more difficulty than people have of stronger nerves, and better fortunes. All her life was but labour and pain; and she never threw down the burden for the sake of present pleasure. I don't know what use you can make of all I have said. I have written it with the strong desire to obtain appreciation for her. Yet, what does it matter? She herself appealed to the world's judgement for her use of some of the faculties she had, - not the best, - but still the only ones she could turn to strangers' benefit. They heartily, greedily enjoyed the fruits of her labours, and then found out she was much to be blamed for possessing such faculties. Why ask for a judgement on her from such a world?" elizabeth gaskell/charlotte bronte

Poem: No coward soul is mine

No coward soul is mine,
No trembler in the worlds storm-troubled sphere:
I see Heavens glories shine,
And faith shines equal, arming me from fear.

O God within my breast.
Almighty, ever-present Deity!
Life -- that in me has rest,
As I -- Undying Life -- have power in Thee!

Vain are the thousand creeds
That move mens hearts: unutterably vain;
Worthless as withered weeds,
Or idlest froth amid the boundless main,

To waken doubt in one
Holding so fast by Thine infinity;
So surely anchored on
The steadfast Rock of immortality.

With wide-embracing love
Thy Spirit animates eternal years,
Pervades and broods above,
Changes, sustains, dissolves, creates, and rears.

Though earth and man were gone,
And suns and universes ceased to be,
And Thou wert left alone,
Every existence would exist in Thee.

There is not room for Death,
Nor atom that his might could render void:
Thou -- Thou art Being and Breath,
And what Thou art may never be destroyed.

Emily Bronte

Family tree

The Bronte Family

Grandparents - paternal
Hugh Brunty was born 1755 and died circa 1808. He married Eleanor McClory, known as Alice in 1776.

Grandparents - maternal
Thomas Branwell (born 1746 died 5th April 1808) was married in 1768 to Anne Carne (baptised 27th April 1744 and died 19th December 1809).

Father was Patrick Bronte, the eldest of 10 children born to Hugh Brunty and Eleanor (Alice) McClory. He was born 17th March 1777 and died on 7th June 1861. Mother was Maria Branwell, who was born on 15th April 1783 and died on 15th September 1821.

Maria had a sister, Elizabeth who was known as Aunt Branwell. She was born in 1776 and died on 29th October 1842.

Patrick Bronte married Maria Branwell on 29th December 1812.

The Bronte Children
Patrick and Maria Bronte had six children.
The first child was Maria, who was born in 1814 and died on 6th June 1825.
The second daughter, Elizabeth was born on 8th February 1815 and died shortly after Maria on 15th June 1825. Charlotte was the third daughter, born on 21st April 1816.

Charlotte married Arthur Bell Nicholls (born 1818) on 29th June 1854. Charlotte died on 31st March 1855. Arthur lived until 2nd December 1906.

The first and only son born to Patrick and Maria was Patrick Branwell, who was born on 26th June 1817 and died on 24th September 1848.

Emily Jane, the fourth daughter was born on 30th July 1818 and died on 19th December 1848.

The sixth and last child was Anne, born on 17th January 1820 who died on 28th May 1849.

Top Withens in the snow.

Top Withens in the snow.



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