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"Stars" by Emily Bronte
Transcript of "Stars" by Emily Bronte
Bronte was an English poet and novelist during the Victorian period.
She lived in a remote village on the wild Yorkshire moors, and had little contact with the outside world.
"Her poetry was significantly shaped by her experience of what it was to be a woman in nineteenth century England" (Margaret Homans, 1996).
Sexual desire theme
The speaker is alone during the nighttime in her bedroom.This private setting and dark hour symbolises a sexually-charged woman recalling her experience with a lover.
"All through the night, your glorious eyes/Were gazing down in mine"
The lover's penetrating gaze reflects their sexual intimacy.
Eyes are traditionally seen as windows to the soul, representing the two lovers as deeply connected soul mates.
The speaker's inner thoughts promote a sexual desire for her lover to return and fulfill
this passionate fantasy.
"throb" and "thrill"
These erotic words reflect an excitable craving for this physical sensation
They also have connotations of the heart and love.
Desire to escape theme
The nighttime also represents the speaker's escapism into her sensual imagination, her mental interior space.
"Thought followed thought, star followed star"
Her excitable thought generates a sexual awakening and a dizzy pleasure.
This section depicts female masturbation because the spinning stars symbolise an endless orgasm, journeying the speaker to a sexual euphoria.
The aggressive arrival of the sun portrays the speaker's desire to voyage back into the comforting darkness, and escape the burning social reality for women.
"Blood-red he rose, and arrow straight/His fierce beams struck my brow"
The personified masculine sun represents the Patriarchal society the speaker desires to escape.
The sunlight parallels the power of dominating men because this beaming spotlight enters the domestic setting of this confined woman.
Emily Bronte 1818-1848
Women were typically confined in a domestic space and regarded as "angels of the home" in this Patriarchal society.
They traditionally followed strict customs such
as being sexually pure, silent and passive.
Victorian female poets engaged with the imagination to escape their social restrictions.
Their writings commonly voiced an intimate exploration of the mental interior space.
This poem was written in 1845.
It is a dramatic monologue, meaning feelings, emotions and the main theme of desire are conveyed by the speaker.
There are 12 stanzas with an irregular rhyming scheme which has an occasional ABAB pattern.
The poem is divided into two sections: the comforting darkness and the "hostile light".
Bronte's use of light and dark imagery emphasises how the violent dawn presents a female's oppressed reality and burns away the dark creativity into a blinding reality.
Desire is presented sexually, mentally and socially in the poem, highlighting the social position of women, but also how Bronte was breaking the interpretation that Victorian women had pure minds.
Bronte provokes "a specifically erotic note that no other poem has sounded." (Robin Grove, 1976)
"Emily Bronte’s poetry... criticises conventional Victorian femininity." (Tess Cosslett, 1996)
"The poem is preoccupied with Yearning and the extent to which emotion is not at home in the ordinary world." (Robin Grove, 1976)