Emily Bronte and Elizabeth Barrett-Browning

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Emily Bronte and Elizabeth Barrett-Browning

As I looked through the literary works we have covered this term I noticed that there were only two strong females we have studied that seem to play a strong part in the development of British Literature. Emily Bronte and Elizabeth Barrett-Browning were strong, influential figures in the literary world.

Emily Bronte's Wuthering Heights can be credited with the title of the first Romantic novel of its time and her poetry was also redefining the poetry of the era. Unintentionally, I believe, Emily set a new standard for writing. Her use of nature, an undefined hero and heroine, the unusual structure of narrators, and her portrayal of the supernatural powers within the plot all contribute to her literary groundbreaking, trend setting style. Her poetry is also unique in that it has a personal flair not typically seen in previous poets. It is a very personal reflection of what she is enduring at the moment. That interpretation, however, is not entirely clear without the historical context. "A little while, a little while, The noisy crowd are barred away; I can sing and I can smile A little while I've a holyday!" (WH 296) could be interpreted as any number of things without the reader being fully aware that at this point in her life Bronte was a trapped in a job she hated far from her beloved home and family. She was a governess. In that light it makes her poem makes complete sense; she needed to get away from the children she was responsible for. Several of her other poems were also born of this time in her life and reflected her homesickness.

Elizabeth Barrett-Browning too wrote about her life but I saw her work as more direct and open than that of Bronte. Without the historical knowledge of Bronte's life at the time of her writing her poems are beautiful but the reader cannot fully appreciate the emotive elements behind the words. Barrett-Browning's works were much clearer as to their intent and even without a working knowledge of her relationship with Robert Browning the reader can fully appreciate the powerful dramatic emotions flowing through her words. Her most famous sonnet "How do I love thee?
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