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

vrijdag 26 juli 2013

A Byronic hero. That man of loneliness and mystery.

The Brontë children had a copy of Moore’s book, read it repeatedly, and offered it as reading to their friends. In a letter to Ellen Nussey, Charlotte writes, “for Biography, read Johnson’s Lives of the Poets, Boswell’s Life of Johnson, Southey’s Life of Nelson, Lockhart’s Life of Burns, Moore’s Life of Sheridan, Moore’s Life of Byron [. . .]” (Barker 220). Moore’s biography was especially useful to the Brontës as they interpreted and presented their own versions of Byron.
 
There were primarily three different kinds of reactions to Byron during the middle of the nineteenth century, and each Brontë sister represents a different kind of response. Emily is considered the most Romantic of the three sisters, thus it is not too surprising to find that she consistently provides a full-scale adoption of Byron in both her poetry and her novel Wuthering Heights
In contrast, Anne seems the most stereotypically Victorian of the three, and therefore tends to exhibit large-scale rejection of Byron in The Tenant of Wildfell Hall. And finally, while Charlotte’s poetry demonstrates imitation of Byron, Jane Eyre allows for co-option of him only after punishment and reform, making Charlotte somewhat ambivalent about Byron.
 
There are at least three significant conclusions that can be reached as a result of tracing Byron’s influence on female authors across the whole of the nineteenth-century. First, Byron is extremely relevant over the course of the hundred years. He is still interacting with the English, even after he’s been dead for two generations. This demonstrates how popular he really was, how varied and how lasting his image became.

His influence helped to shape many of the key literary characters in all of British
literature; his heroes become Heathcliff in Wuthering Heights and Rochester in Jane Eyre.
 
A Byronic hero:
  • A Byronic hero exhibits several characteristic traits, and in many ways he can be considered a rebel. The Byronic hero does not possess "heroic virtue" in the usual sense; instead, he has many dark qualities. With regard to his intellectual capacity, self-respect, and hypersensitivity, the Byronic hero is "larger than life," and "with the loss of his titanic passions, his pride, and his certainty of self-identity, he loses also his status as [a traditional] hero" (Thorslev 187). 
  • He is usually isolated from society as a wanderer or is in exile of some kind. It does not matter whether this social separation is imposed upon him by some external force or is self-imposed. Byron's Manfred, a character who wandered desolate mountaintops, was physically isolated from society, whereas Childe Harold chose to "exile" himself and wander throughout Europe. Although Harold remained physically present in society and among people, he was not by any means "social."
  • Often the Byronic hero is moody by nature or passionate about a particular issue. He also has emotional and intellectual capacities, which are superior to the average man. These heightened abilities force the Byronic hero to be arrogant, confident, abnormally sensitive, and extremely conscious of himself. Sometimes, this is to the point of nihilism resulting in his rebellion against life itself (Thorslev 197). In one form or another, he rejects the values and moral codes of society and because of this he is often unrepentant by society's standards. Often the Byronic hero is characterized by a guilty memory of some unnamed sexual crime. Due to these characteristics, the Byronic hero is often a figure of repulsion, as well as fascination.

Tom Winnifrith comments that a "study of the Brontes' juvenilia provides confirmatory evidence of the sisters' preoccupation with the aristocracy, their emancipation from Victorian prudery, and the attraction of the Byronic hero, beautiful but damned" .


5 opmerkingen:

  1. While they lived during Queen Victoria's time, the Brontës were not Victorians. That's it in a nut shell.

    They were raised with much earlier modes and models...such as Byron etc and certainly these modes were more to their personal liking ( high feeling etc. )

    In her book, Mrs Gaskell is at constant pains to get Charlotte excused for not being Victorian...( awful father, lived in wild Yorkshire! Deaths! Horrors! ) . It's almost as if that is the point of the book and Charlotte's early death gets her off the hook

    The fact that Charlotte was a pre-Victioran living during Queen Victoria's rein makes the question of how later works of Charlotte's would have been received had she lived even more interesting. Because the Victorian crack down socially was continuing to grow and would for some time .

    Emily is considered the most Romantic of the three sisters, thus it is not too surprising to find that she consistently provides a full-scale adoption of Byron in both her poetry and her novel Wuthering Heights.

    And what is fascinating is ultimately she engages with the outside world the least of the four. Emily can adopt an Byron full scale successfully in the real world in the liberty of the parsonage and moor...and in an interior life .

    Branwell relentlessly takes it to the streets, with disastrous results.

    In contrast, Anne seems the most stereotypically Victorian of the three, and therefore tends to exhibit large-scale rejection of Byron in The Tenant of Wildfell Hall.

    As it turns out , Byron often leaves an awful mess for others to mop up. I can well see Anne roll her eyes about it lol

    Anne was raised by Aunt Branwell more directly than the others and was accordingly less feral if you will than the rest .

    This I believe explains in large measure how "gentle" Anne was able, unlike the others, to keep a job and make it a success...at great costs to herself, but still she could stick it....and for years

    Who else of the four can say that?

    Of course in a group where Bryon is admired , keeping a mere job would not necessarily gain you much credit lol,,, But Anne is not less of a Brontë , she is a Brontë with an added dimension.

    .... Charlotte somewhat ambivalent about Byron.

    Charlotte is endlessly drawn like a moth to the Byron flame , but realizes the utter unworkability of Byron unbound in real life.
    Her struggle between these two views is almost life long.

    Charlotte points to "middle age" as a reason for the lessening
    of this tension within herself in later life.

    Charlotte was finally able to accept the love of a mere human being and found it amazingly fulfilling. Though it must be said it was only when Arthur Bell Nicholls showed some unexpected Byronic traits himself that he finally gained Charlotte's attention ! lol

    Sadly it was just when this greater peace between Charlotte's inner and outer worlds was at last reached, she left this sphere
    altogether

    Jane Eyre allows for co-option of him only after punishment and reform,

    Indeed and one can see how during her life Charlotte is so often chastising herself . She watches herself like a jailor ..keeping her Byron self in check .

    So one can see in the four mature Bronte children the scale of Byron, from deepest hues to a paler shade

    Emily--- Branwell--- Charlotte--- Anne

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    Reacties
    1. In her book, Mrs Gaskell is at constant pains to get Charlotte excused for not being Victorian...( awful father, lived in wild Yorkshire! Deaths! Horrors!

      Though it must be said it was only when Arthur Bell Nicholls showed some unexpected Byronic traits himself that he finally gained Charlotte's attention ! lol


      Ha,ha.....I like this.....

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  2. Loved this article, and all the interesting information in the comment above mine too! I am a huge fan of Byron and of the Brontes (especially Emily) and as a writer I love to see how writers inspire each other.

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    1. Deze reactie is verwijderd door de auteur.

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    2. Hi laura,

      Nice to meet you.

      I like the comment of Anne as well.

      Verwijderen

Parsonage

Parsonage

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).

Parents
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.

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