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The Prisoner

Emily Brontë

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Added by: anonymous
The poem "The Prisoner" may be viewed as a feminist text, although this is debatable. Whilst Bronte does not urge the reader to take action against the injustice which could be seen as 19th century social treatment of women, she does create a heroine in the poem. A figure of female Christian Endurance who demonstrates the hardship of living within the restrainst of society, eg the Prison described.

Aspects of the poem directly SHOW that this is not simply a religous piece, such as "And robed in fires of hell, or bright with heavenly shine,

If it but herald death, the vision is divine!" Thereby showing it is not the closeness to God she is yearning for but in fact a release FROM the restraints she must suffer. Death is her only salvation, a conclusion many intellectual women of the 19th century came to, when they were branded insane for wishing to exercise their talents, thereby breaking social convention.

The poems imagery is powerful, the poem pleads to be read as a speech with speech-like rhetoric "Still let my tyrants know...".

The rhythm which stays unbroken through the majority of the piece is in iambic hexameter. It's lack of fluctuation rhythmically means the reader is able to pay more attention to the subject matter of the piece, something Bronte most probably intended.

The break in rhythm occurs with the onset of three anapests in the sixth stanza, third and fourth lines, which may herald the dawning of reality, "When the ear begins to hear..."

The metaphor of the "inner essence" seems to be related to the heroines inner self, it is depicted as a bird, trapped but now ready to break free. This shows that death, to the Prisoner, means true salvation and escape.

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