The Theme of Duality and Epiphanic Moments in the Works of Emily Brontë
Abstract: “Navigating through Dublin in1904, Dickens would have lost his way, but trying to read Ulysses, he would have thought he had lost his mind,” (3) says Stephen Kern while distinguishing between Victorian writers and the modernists. He further adds, “Modernism is about a new way of interpreting the world more than the substance of that world” (3). Little wonder that while looking at the realist novels of H. G. Wells, John Galsworthy, and Arnold Bennett, Virginia Woolf ponders over the purpose of their characters. She admits that their novels are well-made, and yet she accuses them of “making the trivial and the transitory appear the true and the enduring” (Common Reader 210). Rather than branding something as tragic or comic, Woolf’s focus is on an artist’s capability of making life appear as it truly is, as she proposes with Emily Brontë’s characters that are filled with “such a gust of life that they transcend reality” (227). Using Woolf’s argument as the basis, I argue that in both her novel and poems Emily Brontë depicts that spirit of transcendence that aligns her with modernist writers. The nature of Emily’s power lies in her ability to thematize the metaphor of duality. In both her poetic works and novel she explores the dualistic aspects of life as fundamental. For her it was not a matter of choice, and she embraced both as can be seen through the struggles of her characters who continually strive to find a gap between love and the self. The sense of duality that is introduced in the Gondal poems is explored in a much more complex manner in Wuthering Heights, and Brontë “saw these dualities as cosmic” (Chitham 203). This paper examines some of the motifs of Emily Brontë’s art that I would claim make her a precursor to the Modernists.
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Published in December 2015