Anne Brontë

By: Cassie Kunz

“The ties that bind us to life are tougher than you imagine, or than any one can who has not felt how roughly they may be pulled without breaking.”
Anne Brontë, Agnes Grey

Background


  • a 19th century novelist and poet

  • best known for the novels Agnes Grey and the Tenant of Wildfell Hall

    • made contributions to Poems by Currer, Ellis and Acton Bell, a collection of works by three of the Bronte girls
  • also notable for the remarkable family that she was a part of, including more well-known sisters Charlotte and Emily Brontë

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Overview

  • grew up on the moors of Yorkshire, a relatively isolated area near Haworth.

  • education out of the home was received for two short years beginning in 1837 at Miss Margaret Wooler’s Boarding School

    • earlier schooling had not been given because of the tragic deaths of her two older sisters at Cowan Bridge School
  • childhood was primarily spent with father, aunt and siblings, of which she was closest in age and companionship to Emily

    • especially evidenced through their work on fictitious world of Gondal in their literary endeavours, both in childhood and as they became older
  • adult life began with work as a governess, and from 1839 to 1845 she pursued this solution to the family’s financial difficulties

  • after resigning from her second post, Anne returned home, where she would produce her celebrated novels and outlive all but one sibling (Charlotte)

    • the effect of this sister on Anne’s works and public recognition was significant, as it was Charlotte that discouraged the republication of The Tenant of Wildfell Hall, and she who was also responsible for Anne’s reputation as a lesser writer than her more successful sisters
  • Anne succumbed to an untimely death of tuberculosis at the age of 29, which was not unexpected due to lifelong health considerations

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Influences

Anne was influenced by a variety of factors in her life that separated her from ‘normal’ people. For example, the deaths of her mother and older two sisters at a very young age made her childhood difficult, especially without friends her age to socialize with. The isolation of her home on the moors was responsible for the lack of interaction, a situation that she did not escape until her late teenage years.


Because Anne grew up without a mother, her father (Patrick Brontë) held that much more of an influential position. His position in the clergy was belied by a strong sense of nationalism and interest in such worldly subjects as politics. According to Charlotte, “The evil simply was - he had missed his vocation: he should have been a soldier, and circumstances had made him priest.” This and Anne’s strong religious beliefs had strong effects on Anne’s subject material as a writer, and more importantly her interest in literature in the first place. Later, Anne’s stay as a governess introduced her to social circles as of yet unknown to her, and brought to light the confined upbringing she had had. This enlightenment was evidenced by the sometimes autobiographical nature of her novels, in which her experiences and perspective as a poor governess for the rich were dealt with.

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This work was noted for being done by her brother, Branwell Brontë

A Reminiscence

YES, thou art gone! and never more

Thy sunny smile shall gladden me;

But I may pass the old church door,

And pace the floor that covers thee


May stand upon the cold, damp stone,

And think that, frozen, lies below

The lightest heart that I have known,

The kindest I shall ever know.


Yet, though I cannot see thee more,

'It's still a comfort to have seen;

And though thy transient life is o'er,

'This sweet to think that thou hast been;


To think a soul so near divine,

Within a form so angel fair,

United to a heart like thine,

Has gladdened once our humble sphere.

Poem Overviews

A Reminiscence

This elegy is assumed to be written from the perspective of Anne herself, and it is directed towards her newly deceased sister Emily.

The bittersweet/melancholy tone emphasizes the loss of a person so close to Anne, and the focus is the angelic qualities of her sister in comparison with the sadness of that untimely death.


Home

Using the context of the publication of this poem and Anne's previous life, the text was likely written while she was staying as a governess far from home. While details within the poem make her home seem uninviting, especially through its contrast to the 'velvet lawns' and 'borders trim' of the immediate surroundings, this serves to emphasize Anne's longing for a familiar place in spite of the discomforts.

The poem's tone is one of longing, as she describes the unnatural perfection around her and end with the plea, "Oh, give me back my HOME!".


Last lines

This dismal title gives a pointed allusion to Anne's own impending death. Due to the impression of finality given off by the title, it is implied that this poem is actually her last, making it an important insight into what Anne wanted to say before she died. While the broader issue is her death, the subject is really the struggle she was facing in her faith.

It begins with accounts of the pain and suffering she was going through, but after shifting from a general description to a heartfelt prayer to God, the tone becomes one of humble courage because of the strength she found in her beliefs.

Style

  • Writing is characterized by her use of religious connotations and distinct writing pattern

    • Christian parents, emphasized by her father’s place as a priest, caused her writing to feature strong religious themes

    • emphasized by the audience being God Himself in Last Lines.

  • ABAB 4-line stanzas used, with A having 8 syllables and B having 6.

    • The beginning often holds the more negative tones, with shifts in tone somewhere in the middle of the text towards more positive feelings.

    • The end features the most emotional part of the poem, as evidenced by the increased use of punctuation such as exclamation points.

  • Elizabethan English is used throughout her writing, an early modern type that is known for the use of words like thou, thee, thy, etc.

Original Poem - Life

I struggle daily to be strong

Without questioning why

But now I feel that I’ve been wrong,

Have not served Him on high


Ignoring Thou that sits above

I trundle through my life

Ignoring those watching with love

Oblivious to strife


Why must I be giv'n such a fate?

When those around have ease,

In all their acts they have less freight

Are there not more with pleas?


But I am not alone, You say,

I hear Your soothing call.

For when we strive on through the fray

Your answers counter all.


I wonder at this life I’m giv’n,

Know not why I deserve

As I’m among the forgiven

For Thou my praise reserve!



The format of Anne's works has been used to model the creation of this poem. This is shown through the melancholy attitude of the beginning, the shift towards a hopeful tone around the middle, and relatively more intense emotion by the very end. Elizabethan diction is also used, as well as her 4-line stanzas with an ABAB rhyme scheme.

Works Cited

"Agnes Grey." Goodreads. Goodreads Inc., n.d. Web. 11 Apr. 2016.


Anne Brontë, 1820-1849." EBooks @ Adelaide. The University of Adelaide, 12 Jan. 2014. Web.

10 Apr. 2016.


"Anne Brontë - Dreams." Womenpoets. Wordpress, 3 Nov. 2012. Web. 10 Apr. 2016.


"Anne Bronte's Grave Error Corrected - BBC News." BBC News. BBC, 30 Apr. 2013. Web. 11

Apr. 2016.


Birmingham, Meredith. "The Bronte Family." The Bronte Family. Meredith Birmingham, 12

June 2013. Web. 11 Apr. 2016.


"Haworth - Bronte Country - Home of the Bronte Sisters - Emily, Charlotte and Anne

Bronte." Beautifulbritain. Beautiful Britain, n.d. Web. 10 Apr. 2016.


Online database: "Anne Brontë." Poetry Foundation. Poetry Foundation, n.d. Web. 30 Mar. 2016.


Print Source: "The Brontës." British Writers. Ed. Ian Scott-Kilvert. 1st ed. Vol. V. New York:

Charles Scribner's Sons, 1982. 105-53. Print. British Writers.