English Literature
Emily Brontë

Emily Brontë

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Emily Brontë: A Revolutionary Female Author

When Wuthering Heights was published in 1847, readers were shocked to discover that the author, who used the pseudonym 'Ellis Bell,' was actually a woman named Emily Brontë. This caused quite a stir among readers, as it was unheard of for a woman to write such a powerful and unique novel that defied traditional literary conventions.

Early Life and Inspiration

Born in Thornton, Yorkshire in 1818, Emily Brontë is best known for her poetry and her iconic novel, Wuthering Heights. Along with her sisters, Charlotte and Anne, she revolutionized the portrayal of women in literature. The Brontë sisters explored the inner emotional lives of women, breaking away from the traditional portrayal of women as passive victims. They also deviated from the reserved and proper characters of Jane Austen, instead delving into extreme emotions like love, jealousy, and hatred.

In Wuthering Heights, Brontë's main theme is revenge, and she skillfully embeds the human characters into the natural world, portraying them as beings who simply act according to their nature rather than being inherently good or bad.

Background and Education

Emily Brontë was born during the Georgian period, a time marked by the death of Jane Austen and the end of the Napoleonic Wars. This was also the era of the Romantics, with poets like Lord Byron and artists like William Turner gaining popularity. The Brontë children, along with their father Patrick and aunt Elizabeth, were constantly inspired by the wild and dramatic landscape of the Yorkshire moors. They even created an imaginary kingdom called 'Angria,' which later evolved into 'Gondal' and may have influenced the characters in their novels.

The Brontë children were mostly homeschooled by their father and aunt after their mother's death in 1821. In 1824, the four oldest sisters were sent to Cowan Bridge School, where tragedy struck when two of the sisters fell ill with typhoid fever and passed away. The remaining children were homeschooled until Emily and Charlotte briefly attended Roe Head School in 1835. However, Emily's homesickness led her to return home after a short three months.

Her Journey to Brussels and the Impact of Pensionnat Heger

Desiring a formal education, Emily traveled to Brussels with her sister Charlotte to attend the Hegers’ Pensionnat. Though initially critical of Monsieur Heger’s teaching, Emily eventually developed a mutual respect with him. Monsieur Heger once remarked on her strong will and aptitude for argument, stating that she would have excelled as a man due to her determination and logical thinking. However, her stubbornness may have hindered her from considering other perspectives when they conflicted with her own desires or beliefs.

It is interesting to ponder how Emily's life would have turned out if she had never traveled to Brussels and met Heger. Perhaps without his influence, she would have remained in her secluded ways, as her sister Charlotte described her. Little is known about Emily's personal life and thoughts, as she left behind no letters or journals. However, her powerful voice and imagination can be seen through her novel, Wuthering Heights, which she began writing upon her return to Haworth in 1843.

Fun fact: Emily Brontë was skilled in handling a rifle, a trait taught to her by her father, Patrick.

Focusing on Her Passions

After the death of her aunt, Emily returned to Haworth and focused on her studies in German and music, as well as writing poetry. She left behind a legacy that continues to inspire readers and challenge traditional literary norms. Emily Brontë's groundbreaking work continues to be celebrated for its complex characters, vivid imagery, and exploration of human emotions. She was a true trailblazer in a time when female authors were not widely recognized, and her impact is still felt today.

The Life and Legacy of Emily Brontë: An Exploration of Her Haunting Tale, Wuthering Heights

In 1845, Emily Brontë's sister Charlotte discovered her poems and, after a disagreement over privacy, convinced her to publish them. That same year, Emily began writing Wuthering Heights, a gothic novel set in Yorkshire in 1801. Published in 1847 to mixed reviews, the novel was praised for its powerful voice and vivid imagination by many critics. However, just a few months after her brother Branwell's passing, Emily tragically died from tuberculosis in 1848.

A Ghostly Love Story

The story of Wuthering Heights centers around the sullen residents of the eponymous house, and their tumultuous relationships with each other. Through the eyes of visitor Lockwood, we are introduced to the house's history through the storytelling of housekeeper Nelly Dean. The novel follows the foundling Heathcliff, who is taken in by the Earnshaw family and develops a strong bond with their daughter Catherine. However, his relationship with her brother Hindley is filled with animosity. As Catherine becomes drawn to the nearby manor house's owners, the Lintons, Heathcliff leaves Wuthering Heights. Despite Catherine's marriage to Edgar Linton, her feelings for Heathcliff remain strong.

Upon his return as a wealthy man, Heathcliff seeks revenge by eloping with Edgar's sister Isabella, causing a rift between the siblings. As Catherine's mental and physical health declines, she gives birth to a daughter, Cathy, and eventually passes away. In despair, Heathcliff calls upon her ghost to haunt him for the rest of his life. Meanwhile, Isabella gives birth to Heathcliff's son, Linton, and with the passing of Hindley, Heathcliff becomes the owner of Wuthering Heights. He brings Linton to live with him and schemes for Linton and Cathy to marry. However, as Linton's health declines, Cathy stays at Wuthering Heights to care for him. In the end, Heathcliff obtains ownership of the nearby manor house through his marriage to Isabella.

Over time, Wuthering Heights gained popularity and is now widely recognized as one of the greatest novels of all time. Charlotte edited a second edition in 1850, making changes to the Yorkshire dialect used by the character Joseph. The novel has been adapted into various films and continues to inspire artists, writers, musicians, and filmmakers around the world.

A Brief Look at the Life and Legacy of Emily Brontë (1818-1848)

Emily Brontë was born in Thornton, Yorkshire, in 1818 during the Regency period. As she was primarily educated at home, her formal education was limited until she briefly studied in Brussels in 1842-1843. In 1845, her poems were published, and she embarked on writing her gothic masterpiece, Wuthering Heights. Though it was initially met with mixed reviews upon its publication in 1847, Lord David Cecil's analysis in 1934 solidified the novel's status as a literary classic. Tragically, Brontë passed away in 1848 due to consumption, leaving behind a lasting legacy through her novel and the words of her sister Charlotte, who described her as a solitary and benevolent soul.

Uncovering the Timeless Themes of Wuthering Heights

While many label Wuthering Heights as a gothic novel, its exploration of existential concepts and cosmic themes sets it apart from traditional works in the genre. Emily Brontë's unyielding search for the meaning of life and her willingness to break societal norms make this novel a true masterpiece that continues to captivate readers across generations. Without a doubt, the enduring impact of Wuthering Heights is a testament to the genius of its author.

Finding Answers About Emily Brontë and Wuthering Heights

  • Q: What time period did Emily Brontë live in?
  • A: Emily Brontë lived during the Regency and early Victorian era.
  • Q: How did Emily Brontë pass away?
  • A: Emily Brontë succumbed to consumption in 1848.
  • Q: When was Wuthering Heights first published?
  • A: Wuthering Heights was published in 1847.
  • Q: Who was Emily Brontë?
  • A: Emily Brontë was a celebrated poet and the brilliant mind behind Wuthering Heights.
  • Q: Why did Emily Brontë write Wuthering Heights?
  • A: Emily Brontë's sister Charlotte encouraged her to publish her poetry, leading to the creation of Wuthering Heights.

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