“Life” by Charlotte Bronte

About the Poet
Charlotte Bronte (1816-1855) was a 19th century English writer whose novel Jane Eyre (1847) is regarded as a Western literary classic. She was the eldest of the three Bront sisters (Charlotte, Emily, and Anne) who lived to adulthood and published novels. Charlotte Bront, like many other female writers of the time, first published her poems and books (including Jane Eyre) under a male pen name — Currer Bell.

Charlotte Bront’s novels have become classics of English literature. Charlotte was sent to the Clergy Daughters’ School at Cowan Bridge with three of her sisters in August 1824. Charlotte claimed that it had a long-term impact on her health and physical development, as well as hastened the deaths of her two elder sisters. Angria, Emily, and Anne penned articles and poems about their homeland. The sagas were rich and convoluted (and still exist in part manuscripts) and filled them with an obsessive fascination in childhood and early adolescence, preparing them for their literary occupations in adulthood. Charlotte resumed her education at Roe Head, Mirfield, where she met her lifelong friends and correspondents, Ellen Nussey and Mary Taylor. During this time, she penned her novella The Green Dwarf under the pen name Wellesley.

In May 1846, Charlotte, Emily, and Anne published a collective collection of poetry under the pen names Currer, Ellis, and Acton Bell. Despite the book’s failure to pique the sisters’ attention, they chose to keep writing for publication and began work on their first novels.

Charlotte is also the key heroine in the drama The Gales of March, which depicts the narrative of the Bront family. Charlotte’s Villette was published in 1853, with themes comparable to Jane Eyre and Shirley: the hardships of a strong independent woman and her longing for love.

After months of writing, Charlotte married Arthur on June 29, 1854. Her father eventually agreed that he was worthy of his daughter and approved. They began their brief but lovely marriage with a month-long honeymoon in Ireland, after which they returned to Haworth.

Charlotte Bronte died while pregnant on March 31, 1855, following a protracted illness.

About the Poem – Life

The poem encourages us to keep an optimistic attitude and to never be discouraged by temporary failures. It inspires us to look beyond the immediate disappointments and appreciate the joys that life has to offer. She claims that in the war between hope and despair, although despair may appear to be more powerful at first, it is hope that will ultimately win the battle.


The poem contrasts the difficult part of life with the joyous parts of life.

Lines 1 through 12 contrast the rain, dark, gloomy day which can represent life’s trials and problems with the sunshine, pleasant and wonderful day that can also come in this world, even right after the gloomy day and brings with it flowers . So why worry about the darker, hard times, but understand that it will change and things will brighten
up.

• Lines 16 to the 32 continues this theme and says how hope can spring back from despair and all in all is victorious over
the hard things of life.

Summary of “Life” by Charlotte Bronte

Charlotte Bront’s poem “Life” begins with these lovely lines: “Life LIFE, believe, is not a dream / As dark as sages say.” Her use of the morning rain or cloud metaphors that quickly vanish, leaving flowers blooming in their wake or foreshadowing a lovely day is very refreshing.

In the first stanza of the poem, the poet asserts that life is genuine and not a fantasy. She vehemently refutes and contradicts sages’ (experienced individuals’) notion that life is a “dark dream.” The reference here is to the numerous negative people who have pessimistic views of life, people, and situations and are generally suspicious of everything. On the other hand, the poet believes that every adversity in life contains the seeds of future happiness.

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The poet emphatically reaffirms the need of an optimistic outlook in our life and encourages us to overcome our grief and disappointments, just as the “gloomy clouds” give way to “blooming flowers” one day and the morning rain heralds a “pleasant day” the next. According to the poet, afflictions and woes in our life are merely fleeting or ephemeral (short-lived), much like “transient clouds,” and are always followed by the spell of wonderful things (such as a “pleasant day and blooming flowers“).

As a day can dampen a mood with a little morning rain but quickly enliven (cheer) it with a pleasant day, life throws multiple challenges and hurdles at us and occasionally weakens our spirit for the moment, but once overcome, they embolden and empower us to face life’s even greater troubles with a frenzied spirit. Our bad days are compared to “gloomy clouds” that will pass.

As with distant clouds, the poet may be alluding to the difficulties of life being superficial (on the surface or shallow), but a man predictably falls prey to them. She tells us that everything in life is a passe (fade), so instead of lamenting our misfortunes, we should count our blessings.

Thus, the poet exhorts us to savour the “sunny hours,” which infuse our lives with merriment (joy). Let us enjoy the pleasant moments joyfully, cheerfully, and gratefully, for they, like the sorrowful moments, are fleeting (short-lived). There is an urge to believe in the positive things that will inevitably enter our lives regardless of our expectations.

The poet expands on the theme of happiness triumphing over sadness in the third stanza, when she refers to mankind’s unavoidable agony, namely, death, which robs us of everything, even our loved ones. In times of extreme adversity, such as the death of a loved one, grief can undermine our confidence and erode our faith in good things, but the poet reassures and urges us to maintain our hope, as it is the only weapon we have to overcome our misfortunes.

At times, mankind are confronted with the ultimate fact of life, which is referred to as “Death.” As we all know, spring is a time of renewal. “Hope again elastic springs,” Bront concludes. This implies that hope is malleable; it may be bent but not broken. Hope will re-energize us, much like the spring season does following a long winter. Hope is thus personified as a bird, capable of guiding us out of our current tribulations and keeping us aloft with its powerful and golden wings. Hope is linked to the “Spring” season, which is recognised for revitalising and renewing all things in nature. Thus, “Hope” is a quality that every individual requires in order to remain alive and cheerful.

Adverbs such as manfully and bravely are just a few of the male characteristics necessary for successfully navigating life’s ups and downs. The poet reaffirms that it is the ability to overcome all odds, i.e., “courage,” that can fully destroy our life’s despairs and lead us gloriously and victoriously out of such horrible situations.

Bronte employs rain as a metaphor for depression, despair, and even death in this poem. Rain serves as a metaphor for overcast weather. Bront employs this vehicle to make a point about human anguish. On the plus side, much as the sun and life return after a rainstorm, hope may likewise “resurrect” following human anguish. Thus, the rain (or its eponymous sorrow) is not to be feared. It is a natural aspect of life and emotion’s ebb and flow: rain/sun, sorrow/hope.

Several additional expressions that directly relate to the poem’s theme include “Every cloud has a silver lining,” “Gold shines brightest when placed in the heart,” “Rainbow that follows the rain,” “Night that gives way to day,” and “Finding Light at the end of every tunnel.”

Take pleasure in each minute of your life. Balance and calmness are required in life. Take it all in stride and savour every moment. In life, everything is ephemeral. Even if you find yourself in a bad circumstance, keep in mind that it will pass and that better times are not far away. The author has a straightforward approach to life; the poem is both hopeful and encouraging. It embodies a lovely youthful naivety, and it serves as a reminder to individuals who have lost everything in life to be positive and hopeful rather than pessimistic.

Poetic Devices of Life Poem

The poem’s rhyme system is AB AB, giving it a well-structured flow. The poem is beautifully written, with four stanzas of eight, four, eight, and four lines each. Each stanza’s ideas then fit easily into the weather metaphors for life.

The poem’s tone is quite cheerful, happy, and hopeful. Although it reflects on the negatives, it leaves a lasting impression on the reader, instilling hope for the future.

Imagery


Morning rain, gloomy clouds, showers that make the roses bloom, sunny hours, and elastic springs are just a few of the references that conjure vivid images of weather conditions and their intimate connection to many stages of life. While other images, such as death approaching quietly and hope flying with golden wings, are amazing attempts to personify death and hope.

Theme of Life Poem

This poem’s theme delves into the essence of life, as well as the ups and downs that are required to keep it in balance. Throughout the poem, the poet articulates the two sides of life, such as joy vs. sorrow, hope vs. despair, or courage vs. fear, but always maintains a positive attitude.

When we think about life, we have to consider problems, happiness, grief, mistakes, and so on. What if we had a life without problems? They are transitory. We have to live every second, minute, and hour. If the sun shines, we definitely smile; otherwise, we just deal with our poor luck. Being strong is one of the keys we have to follow and persevere in. Optimism, not despair, may win!

Happiness is difficult to define, but what is more important is that you have previously experienced it. One rainy day appears to be the final day of your life, complete with challenges and defeats. Clouds of doom might lead you astray. But we have learnt that nothing lasts forever. True, there are horrible days when you just want to die or disappear, yet a ray of light can transform everything. Sorrow is a fleeting emotion; we may not expect it, but it appears. Every day, your hope may dwindle. Some days are simpler than others.

This poem has taught us that life is not all bad, and that issues are not the end of the world. We can either laugh or cry. Both are a part of our life. We are not perfect; we have flaws and blunders, we cry, and we have one heart that beats every day. So , we are very convinced death will not triumph.

Questions and Answers

Comprehension I


1. The poet says that sages describe life as dark and gloomy. Does she agree with them?
Ans. No, the poet does not agree with them.

2. “O why lament its fall?” Whose fall is the poet referring to? Why does she ask us not to lament its fall?
Ans. It is rain that the poet is referring to.  Flowers bloom when it rains. So she asks us not to be depressed or sad when it rains.

3. What do life’s “sunny hours” refer to, and according to the poet, how should we respond to them?
Ans. According to the poet, “Sunny hours” refer to happy days in one’s life. We should enjoy the happy days by being grateful to them. Normally, when we are happy, the days pass quickly.

4. According to the poet, why should we not lose hope?
Ans. We should not lose hope because hope springs eternal. It is very flexible. And hope is life.

5. What seems to win initially and over what?
Ans. The poet asserts that in the battle between hope and despair, though despair seems more powerful initially, it is hope that will win eventually.

6. What is described as “unconquered” and over what?
Ans. Hope is the sole antidote to despair; it always keeps us cheerful, buoyant, and powerful enough to bear us valiantly and courageously. Hope is said to be “unconquered.”

7. Throughout the poem, the poet uses images of nature—flowers, rain, birds and so on. Identify all the words and images associated with nature.
Ans. The other images the poet used which are associated with nature are mountains, valleys, forests, rivers, waterfalls, animals, etc.

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Comprehension II

1. Examine the poet’s view of life and how it differs from conventional wisdom.
Ans. The poet encourages us to pay attention to the reality of life and reminds us that we must face both joy and pain, hope and despair in our lives. Her point of view on life differs from popular belief. Unlike conventional wisdom, which preaches fatalism, the poet encourages us to maintain a good attitude and not be discouraged by transitory problems.

2. Explain the attitude to life that the poet is recommending.
Ans. The poet is advocating for a positive outlook on life. She encourages us to go beyond the immediate disappointment and embrace the delights that life has to offer.

3. Discuss the language and tone of the poem.
Ans. The language of the poem “Life” is quite optimistic and reassuring. The tone of the poem is strong and appealing. When we are feeling down and get the opportunity to read this poem, we are guaranteed to feel better because every line is bursting with hope and optimism.

4. Describe the imagery and its effectiveness in the poem.
Ans. The poet employs really effective and vivid imagery. To begin, “rain” is a metaphor for doom, misery, and even death. She asserts that life is a “dream,” but one that is not as bleak as sages proclaim and live. She compared the difficulties to “clouds of gloom.” Subtly implying “transience,” as “clouds” cannot last indefinitely. They must disperse. Similarly, our worries dissipate. Additionally, she states that “roses bloom” following rain. She compares hope to “buoyant golden wings” in the final stanza. The visual is extremely powerful in conveying her central message that when difficulties arise, happy days are certain to follow.

5. Bring out the main argument of the poem and judge whether it is convincing.
Ans. The poem’s central theme is that we should cherish every moment of life. We should reflect not just on the bright aspects of life, but also on the less-than-pleasant days. Life is about striking a balance between the two. Every aspect of life is impermanent. Even if we find ourselves in a tough circumstance, we should keep in mind that it will not stay indefinitely and that happier times are not far away.

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