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

zaterdag 7 mei 2011

A study of gender

From A study of gender

In my current analysis of allusion to eight types of folklore in Charlotte Brontë’s (1816-1855) creative literature, I study the inter-relationship between popular belief and customary consciousness and gender in her novel, Jane Eyre (1847). She addresses the problems inherent in Victorian patriarchy by devising a code or system; the fairy and witch motif are symbolic of female power and as such are seen to subvert narrow cultural definitions of Victorian femininity. In their construction as beings living apart from the control of fathers and husbands and the indirect control of organised patriarchy or paternalism, Brontë creates a feminised literary landscape. Furthermore, the novel’s use of folklore appears to invert conventional gender relations as the hero identifies the heroine as fairy/witch. Hence, literary folklore contributes to Brontë feminist critical readings of rebellion against the ‘separate spheres ideology’ characterising mid-Victorian society. In this paper, I firstly, provide an overview (or the context) of my thesis and the secondly, proceed with a broad analysis of Brontë’s treatment of gender from a folklore perspective. For this analysis I outline Brontë’s methodology: source material is drawn from both literary tradition and her local cultural world. I briefly consider her reliance on folklore for her study of gender consciousness across her fiction and then argue for a more radical treatment of fairy and witch feminisation in Jane Eyre.

vrijdag 6 mei 2011

In Jane Eyre, what do the colors symbolize? The Red Room.

In the very first chapter Jane is unfairly convicted of attacking her cousin John Reed, and her punishment entails that she be locked in the red-room. The red-room, being the place where Jane's uncle Mr. Reed passed away, is a room that even the adults in the house avoid at all costs, as it is said to be haunted. Jane, only ten years old at the time, is locked in the ominous room without so much as a candle to comfort her. Jane relates the awful events that ultimately to her permanent removal from Gateshead Hall:

The red-room was a square chamber, very seldom slept in, I might say never, indeed, unless when a chance influx of visitors at Gateshead Hall rendered it necessary to turn to account all the accommodation it contained: yet it was one of the largest and stateliest chambers in the mansion. A bed supported on massive pillars of mahogany, hung with curtains of deep red damask, stood out like a tabernacle in the centre; the two large windows, with their blinds always drawn down, were half shrouded in festoons and falls of similar drapery; the carpet was red; the table at the foot of the bed was covered with a crimson cloth; the walls were a soft fawn colour with a blush of pink in it; the wardrobe, the toilet-table, the chairs were of darkly polished old mahogany. Out of these deep surrounding shades rose high, and glared white, the piled-up mattresses and pillows of
the bed, spread with a snowy Marseilles counterpane. Scarcely less prominent was an ample cushioned easy-chair near the head of the bed, also white, with a footstool before it; and looking, as I thought, like a pale throne.
Jane Eyre the red room

What does the color red symbolize?

The first color we notice in Jane Eyre is the color red. We are exposed to the this color when Jane Eyre is sent to the dreaded red-room after Jane defends herself from the physical abuse that young Master John bestows upon her.

So is there any other passages in the novel where the color red occurs? Outside of the robin feeding incident where Jane is "red-faced,"and the case of musical instruments at the inn, the color red is not mentioned ever again during the course of the novel. The robin feeding incident gives us a clue about why the color is never mentioned again, yet we can still say that the color red is still present in the novel. The robin is sitting on the branches of a leafless cherry tree. Bronte does not mention the color of the robin, and the leafless cherry tree is could hardly be considered red, but both are associated with the color red in the mind's eye of most readers. Here we see Jane acting emotionally, quite out of control, determined to make sure that the hungry robin gets fed before she turns her attention to the adult in the room. This adds weight to the possibility that red represents uncontrolled emotions. The counter-balance to this are the musical instruments seen in the inn in their red case, silent but still a symbol of emotions. The playing of music, though it often looks out of control, is a matter of control and skill. After the robin and the instruments, Bronte expects us to know when something is red, something that most adults should be able to do. It is only in the early stages of Jane's life that we must be reminded of when something is red.
Read more what does the color red symbolize?

The red room in Jane Eyre can represent a lot of things but it is used more as a way of preparing the reader for themes of the book.

The red room shows Jane Eyre as a Gothic Novel as it has many gothic descriptions such as the old furniture in the room , the ghosts and the fact Mr Reed died in that room. The room is also used as a symbol of Jane's confinement at Gateshead, she is trapped there and longs to leave. The red room is also often associated with hell, the colour red, she can't get out, associated with death, ghosts, it's a punishment etc. One of the most important uses of the red room is how it links Jane with Bertha from later on it the book and causes the reader to sympathize with Bertha as maybe it was not her fault she was locked up.

donderdag 5 mei 2011

The Bronte Society Gazette: Portraits of Emily and Charlotte??????

 Here you can find the Bronte Society Gazette.
Inside information about two woman portraits,
 with an explanation why
 they are not portraits of
 Charlotte and Emily Bronte.

read here for more information

woensdag 4 mei 2011

Brontë Myths

“We are three sisters,”

 Charlotte Bronte told her startled publisher, clarifying the identity of the new novelists Currer, Acton, and Ellis Bell. “I regretted the avowal the moment I had made it,” Charlotte wrote later. “I regret it bitterly now, for I find it is against every feeling and intention of ‘Ellis Bell’ [Emily Bronte].” (Letters )

The Brontes were a very private family, admitting only a handful of friends into their inner circle, and they had chosen pseudonyms to preserve that privacy. “What author would be without the advantage of being able to walk invisible?” Charlotte remarked to her publisher. “One is thereby enabled to keep a quiet mind.” (Brontës, 546) But when Mrs. Gaskell’s famous biography of Charlotte Bronte appeared in 1857, the three sisters lost their privacy forever. Today, their humble home in Haworth is one of the most visited literary shrines in the world. (Ghnassia, xi)

When a family about whom very little is known suddenly becomes famous, every scrap of information assumes tremendous significance. A casual rumor becomes fact. A single portrait becomes the only record of someone’s features. A single impression recorded in a diary becomes the way the person must have behaved for decades. Imagine how distorted the picture of our lives would be if one stranger’s impression of us during one family visit became the basis for understanding our entire family dynamic: Engage in a rare, inconsequential quarrel on that day, and we go down in history as quarrelsome. Feel a bit under the weather, and we go down in history as quiet or puny.

But in the case of the Brontes, quite a bit of the distortion was not accidental but deliberate. They wrote in Victorian England. Their writings were controversial. Their earliest admirers did not hesitate to misread the few facts they had gathered in order to “protect” the three sisters’ reputations, and scholars have found their own reasons for doing so since. Emily Bronte, the most private of the three, about whom almost nothing is known, has received the lion’s share of the Bronte mythmaking.
Charlotte Bronte herself began this mythmaking after Emily’s death.

Read more:  www.claredunkle.com

Currer, Ellis an Acton

In 1850, Charlotte Brontë's 'Biographical Notice of Ellis and Acton Bell' put a stop to all speculation on the sex of the 'Bells'. The wording of the passage where she outlined the adoption of their noms de guerre is remarkable for reasons which still have not been fully appreciated:
Averse to personal publicity, we veiled our own names under those of Currer, Ellis, and Acton Bell; the ambiguous choice being dictated by a sort of conscientious scruple at assuming Christian names positively masculine, while we did not like to declare ourselves women, because — without at that time suspecting that our mode of writing and thinking was not what is called 'feminine' — we had a vague impression that authoresses are liable to be looked on with prejudice . . . [quoted from the Norton edition of Wuthering Heights, p. 4]

dinsdag 3 mei 2011

The Tenant of Wildfell Hall

In 1846, women were marginalized and thought far below their male counterparts. Anne Brontë challenges this gender system by providing readers with a strong female heroine who blatantly defies the laws of the day by leaving her atrocious husband for an independent existence, which came as a shock to the social conventions of the day. In 1846, the wife and children were under the husband’s control, and it was impossible to leave a husband without causing legal problems and social scandal. Still, Brontë’s protagonist bravely walks out on Mr. Huntingdon, taking their young son with son.

maandag 2 mei 2011

New label

I started a new label:
Bronte and feminism
 I am thinking how I can reduce the number of labels

zondag 1 mei 2011

!851 The Crystal Palace

The Exhibition was a great triumph, both socially and financially. Aided by the expansion of the railways, six million people (a third of the country’s population then) descended on London to view the spectacular show. And, as if the exhibits were not stunning enough (and Great Britain was determined to prove its superiority with trophy displays from its colonies as well as the home-grown industrial fields of iron and steel, machinery and textiles), the vast glass structure which housed them reached an iconic status and was nicknamed The Crystal Palace.

That Palace of glass was designed by Joseph Paxton, with help from the engineers Charles Fox and Isambard Kingdom Brunel, and the time from conception to completion and the opening of the show was only nine months; a remarkable achievement when considering the enormity of the structure, with the ironwork frame and glass made almost exclusively in Birmingham and Smethwick. And although Paxton had gained great expertise in the design and building of ‘greenhouses’ for other wealthy patrons, nothing before had been so large, measuring 1848 feet long and 454 feet wide, and able to house fully grown trees that were already growing in the park.

This account was given by Charlotte Bronte.
A visit to the Crystal Palace, 1851

Yesterday I went for the second time to the Crystal Palace. We remained in it about three hours, and I must say I was more struck with it on this occasion than at my first visit. It is a wonderful place – vast, strange, new and impossible to describe. Its grandeur does not consist in one thing, but in the unique assemblage of all things. Whatever human industry has created you find there, from the great compartments filled with railway engines and boilers, with mill machinery in full work, with splendid carriages of all kinds, with harness of every description, to the glass-covered and velvet-spread stands loaded with the most gorgeous work of the goldsmith and silversmith, and the carefully guarded caskets full of real diamonds and pearls worth hundreds of thousands of pounds. It may be called a bazaar or a fair, but it is such a bazaar or fair as Eastern genii might have created. It seems as if only magic could have gathered this mass of wealth from all the ends of the earth – as if none but supernatural hands could have arranged it this, with such a blaze and contrast of colours and marvellous power of effect. The multitude filling the great aisles seems ruled and subdued by some invisible influence. Amongst the thirty thousand souls that peopled it the day I was there not one loud noise was to be heard, not one irregular movement seen; the living tide rolls on quietly, with a deep hum like the sea heard from the distance.

Source: The Brontes' Life and Letters, by Clement Shorter (1907)

Nowadays the catalogue, with its steel engraved illustrations is a symbol of High Victorian Design. When the exhibition was done a surplus of £186,000 was made which today would translate as something in the region of £16,000,000. That profit went on to fund an education trust with grants given out for industrial research and, more visibly, the Victoria and Albert Museum, the Science Museum and the Natural History Museum – all built on ground to the south of Hyde Park and known fondly as Albertopolis. And, over all this presides the Albert Memorial, erected by Victoria to recall her husband’s legacy after his sad and premature death at the age of only 42. And what a legacy it was! The VV thinks even King Ernest would find it hard to disagree.


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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