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Lesson 67 – The Brontës
The Brontës were a nineteenth-century literary family associated with the village of Haworth in the West Riding of Yorkshire, England. Their fame in literary circles came from Charlotte, Emily and Anne. Their poems and novels were initially published under the male pseudonyms Currer, Ellis, and Acton Bell, as it was for female writers to receive consideration in the past as writing was considered a man’s business, and not an appropriate occupation for ladies.
Born to a modest family, their parents, Patrick Brontë, an anglican priest and Maria Brontë (née Branwell) weren’t able to give their six children (Maria, Elizabeth, Charlotte, Patrick. a.k.a Branwell, Emily and Anne) the level of education reserved for the upper class. However, their father, an author and graduate saw to it that his children had the best education available to them.
In 1824, the four eldest girls (excluding Anne) entered Cowan Bridge School, a school mainly for the daughters of middle class clergy. The following year, two of the sisters, Maria and Elizabeth died of tuberculosis in the aftermath of a typhoid outbreak at the school. This unfortunate event along with the death of their mother in 1821 of uterine cancer brought the remaining children closer together, a closeness that had existed between the younger children since their early childhood. After the death of their mother, their aunt, Elizabeth Branwell, took it upon herself to raise the children and would educate them in, arithmetic, the alphabet, sewing, embroidery and cross-stitching and supplied them with books and subscriptions.
The children became interested in writing from an early age, their imagination sparked by a gift of twelve wooden soldiers given to Branwell by his father. The children would name the soldiers and tell stories of their deeds. Though, it wasn’t until the end of 1827 that these stories were written down. From there, kingdoms and empires were created and their imagination flourished as they were exposed to further teachings, readings and discussions.
It was to be 20 years later that the sisters would find their works published and praised. Charlotte with Jane Eyre, Emily’s only novel Wuthering Heights and Anne’s Agnes Grey. Using their male pseudonyms Currer, Ellis, and Acton Bell, it was suspected that all three novels were the work of one author and so Charlotte and Anne travelled to London to identify themselves, much to the surprise of the publishers. All the books attracted critical acclaim, on occasion harsh about Wuthering Heights, although praised for its originality and its narrative style, it was scorned by some for its outrageous violence and immorality. Some critics perceiving it as the work of a man with a depraved mind.
Agnes Grey received neutral criticism whilst Jane Eyre became, what we would call today, a bestseller. It was Anne’s second novel, The Tenant of Wildfell Hall, a year later that would display her true ambition as a writer. Though criticism was mixed, the novel outsold Wuthering Heights. Dealing with issues of alcoholism, violence and lecherousness visited upon the protagonist Helen Graham by her husband, and her willingness to break conventions in order to protect herself and her child, it is considered to be one of the first sustained feminist novels.
Unfortunately Anne died a year later of Tuberculosis, the same illness that had taken her sisters and her brother and would take Charlotte in 1855. Though not before Charlotte finished 3 more novels, Shirley (1849), Villette (1853) and The Professor (1857).
There is no doubt that the Brontë sisters had an influence on the world of literature, though how much is subjective. Whatever your opinion, their presence cannot be ignored, from cinema to dance, from naming asteroids to song titles and lyrics. The Brontë sisters have been and will continue to be with us for a long time.
Facts: Patrick Branwell Brontë was a painter, a writer, a poet and the only son of the Brontë family. Unfortunately, in the years leading up to his death, in 1948, Branwell declined into chronic alcoholism, opiate addiction and debt.
Interactive Video Comprehension Quiz 1:
Summary Statements Comprehension Quiz 2:
Drag and Drop Quiz 3:
Let’s review the difference between the Present perfect and the Past simple:
|PRESENT PERFECT||PAST SIMPLE|
|It tells us about the situation now (it is present)|
Mark has lost his laptop. (He hasn’t found it yet.)
|It tells us about the past (it’s not happening at the moment)|
Mark lost his laptop, but he has found it.
I have passed my exam! I’m so happy!
|Things that are not recent.|
When I was a teenager I passed my exams to get into University.Columbus discovered America in 1492.
|New information.Oh, my god! Someone has stained my new suit!||When we continue talking about new information.|
Somebody has stained my new suit.Don’t look at me like that. I didn’t do it.
|With today, this week, since 1985, recently.I’ve done a lot of work today. That’s the reason why I appear so tired.||Whit yesterday, ten minutes ago, in 1997, last week (finished periods of time).It was very cold yesterday.|
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