Emily Bronte and Maya Angelou

Emily Bronte and Maya Angelou
6 mn read


Emily Bronte was one of the most famous poets and novelists and was well-known for her novel “Wuthering Heights“. She was born in Thornton Yorkshire on July 30, 1818. She was not the only member of her family who was born with creative talent; her sisters Anne and Charlotte have also enjoyed literary achievement. Her father published a number of literary works throughout his life. On the other hand, Maya Angelou also contributed a great part to English literature. She was an American poet who worked as a memoirist, singer and civil rights activist. She was born on April 4, 1928, and has done remarkable literary work in her life. She wrote seven autobiographies and many books on poetry considering her background work; it could be said that before becoming a writer and poet, she had diverse occupations like a fry cook, nightclub dancer, performer, and sex worker. She published her first novel in 1847, and after that, she wrote dozens of poems from 1836 to 1846, which revealed her contribution to English literature. The period in which Emil Bronte wrote poetry was a romantic period, and as per the historic facts, she mostly wrote fiction poetry. On the other hand, Maya Angelou was a writer who emerged in the late 1950s. She moved to New York in 1959 and become friends with some of the prominent writers of the Harlem movement and started her struggle for the equality of the black community through her writings, and raised her voice as a civil right activist.


It is true that a writer, especially a poet has to use different elements carefully, such as forms, structure, and language, and these elements define the quality of the work of a writer. In the case of Emily’s and Angelou’s works, it is seen that both of these poets though belonged to a different periods but they presented the themes of their works by taking special care of forms, structure, and language. Each of the poets indeed uses these elements (form, structure, and language) differently that making their work different from the rest of the writers, poets, and authors. For analyzing the difference between the use of structure, language and form used by Emily Bronte and Maya Angelou, two of their poems, “Love and Friendship” and “I still rise” could be compared due to their different time periods.

Important themes that have been explored and discussed by Emily in “Love and Friendship” includes love, season and friendship. In this poem, love has been discussed as something that is fickle, beautiful and changeable and is not long-lasting. For example, a rose seems beautiful in spring and summer, but soon, with the arrival of cold weather, it suffers and decays. Friendship is something that is steadfast, constant and withstands any weather, while season itself is represented as the environment and time in which both love and friendship exist.

Analyzing the work of Emily Bronte, it could be observed that in almost all of her literary works, she used self-effacing and figurative language and was famous for her poetic style. With such language, she explored the themes of romanticism, death, religion, loss, class, and revenge. For example, in her poem, “Love and Friendship” she used mono-syllables and made the use of figurative language, as it could be seen in the line “Then scorn the silly rose-wreath now/And deck thee with the holly’s sheen/That when December blights thy brow/he still may leave thy garland green” (Bronte line 9-12). She was a romantic poet, and in most of her poems, she used figurative language (Mohammed, et al, pp. 187-191). Analyzing the language of this poem, it can be seen that different literary devices are used in the poem, such as personification. For example, the holly tree is personified in the last line when poet uses the pronoun “He” for the tree, which means that it is a human friend, as alluded to by Emily Bronte. “Then scorn the silly rose-wreath now/And deck thee with the holly’s sheen/That when December blights thy brow/He still may leave thy garland green” (Bronte line 9-12).

While analyzing the work and the writing style of any writer, it is important to take a look of the form how the work is constructed and organized as literary forms are like the roots of the literary family (Chitham, et al, pp. 176-187). Considering the form used by Emily in her works it could be said that it is fiction and written in metrical forms for creating an image in the mind of the reader. Considering the form of “Love and Friendship,” it is seen that this poem is written in three quatrains Structure and is also an important thing that needs to be analyzed and in cases of the poetry of Emily Bronte, it is observed that structurally her poems are simple, short and easy (Setiawan). No proper structure is followed, and poems are divided into different numbers of stanza. Different poems have different rhyme schemes as well. In this poem, the poetess has used the simplest and most recognizable poetic form i.e. each of the quatrains consists of a straightforward grouping of sets of four lines.

Considering the structure of the poem through which the poetess conveys the main themes of the poem, it can be seen that out of three stanzas, both the first stanzas (first and second) pattern is “abcb” and in the second stanza first and third lines have a half-rhyme in words “spring and again” “The wild rose-briar is sweet in spring/Its summer blossoms scent the air;/Yet wait till winter comes again/And who will call the wild-briar fair” (Bronte line 5-8). The number of stanzas are three and lines are twelve. Rhyming is the same in the first two stanzas and 2nd and 4th lines, while in the final stanza, rhyming could be seen in 1st and 3rd lines and 2nd and 4th.

On the other hand, the analysis of Angelou’s poem “Still I Rise” has a different form, structure, and language. The most common and important themes of this poem are confidence and self-respect, and she emphasizes the point that not even her skin colour could hold her back. Maya Angelou is known for the forms, structure, and language that she used in her poems, as all of them are the central elements that attract the readers and hold their attention while they are reading any of Maya Angelou’s work (Gupta, pp. 96). Taking a look at her works it won’t be wrong to say that the main structural device that Angelou used for supporting her themes is the repetition of the phrase “I rise” which was used both as the title and phrases. Her poems used to be divided into different stanzas, as seen in “Still I rise”, and another important thing about the structure used by Maya Angelou is that she broke the conventional structure of the poem, as I could be witnessed in the last stanza and lines of the same poem,

“Leaving behind nights of terror and fear

I rise

Into a daybreak that’s wondrously clear

I rise

Brining the fights that my ancestors gave,

I am the dream and the hope of the slave

I rise

I rise

I rise”

Taking into account the form of “Still I Rise”, it has been analyzed that it consists of nine stanzas that are divided into uneven sets of poetic lines. It can be observed that the first seven stanzas have four lines “quatrains” while in the sixth stanza there are eight lines and the ninth stanza have nine lines. The rhyming scheme of the first stanzas is “ABCB”, the rhyming of the eighth stanza is “ABABCC”, and the ninth stanza has rhyming “ABABCCBBB”

The language used by Maya Angelou was inspirational and motivational as she was an activist who was struggling to have equal rights for the black community. It is observed that figurative language is commonly applied in poetry and the same element has been used by Maya Angelou in her literary work (Fathima). The language used by Angelou is ordinary but intense as she believed that the content of the poetry needs to be more interpretative so that reader could easily understand the message of the poem that the poet wants to give. Her works contain more figurative language than literary devices (Igwedibia, pp. 65-69). The language that she used in her work is motivational and inspiring, at the same time she used sad language for depicting the hardships of Africans. It is the work through which she inspires people and tells them that she has been through a lot but still rises. Many similes and metaphors are used; for instance, “But still, like air, I ‘ll rise” (Angelou line 24) is the simile which shows that no matter what has been done by the speaker’s oppressor to harm her, just the air she will rise above all the challenges. Literacy devices are an essential part of the poetic language, and another important literary device in the poem is the use of metaphor. “You may cut me with your eyes” (Angelou line 22), and through the use of this metaphor, Angelou refers to violence and threats and uses the example of cutting with a knife.

As discussed above, it could be said that in literary work specifically in poetry, different elements are used such as form, structure, and langue. These are some of the elements that are reused with great care by the writers so that they could retain or improve the quality of their work. In this essay, two of the main writers/poets of different centuries are taken for analyzing their works. So as a whole, comparing both the above-discussed poems “Love and Friendship” and Still I Rise” it could be said that the forms, structure, and language of both poems are different due to which one literary work becomes different from the other.

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