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Theme Of Memory

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Study 'Remembrance' by Emily Bronte and reflect on how the theme of memory is treated in this poem and in 'Break, Break...' by Tennyson. In the poem 'Remembrance' the narrator has tried to forget the memory of her past lover. She didn't try to forget him because someone new had come into her life, but instead she had to try and forget him because the memory of him was driving her to her death! He was the one love of her life, 'no later light has lightened up my heaven,' with his death her 'golden dreams perished.' The anguish of that blow brought her despair, she wanted to die. She had 'a burning wish to hasten' to the tomb with him. This is why she doesn't want to dwell too long or 'languish' on the fact that they were 'severed at last by times all-severing wave.' The 'anguish' that this contemplation would cause would be enough to possibly drive her to suicide. In the poem 'Break, Break, Break' the narrator is deeply distressed by the loss of a close friend. He reflects on the memory of his friend but is unable to express in his words his grief. ...read more.


The tone of 'Remembrance' is at first questioning, then doubting, then certain and then passionately resolved. In the first two stanzas, Bronte questions not her love for her loved one but the fact that has she forgotten to love him? She has moved on and now when she is alone, her 'thoughts no longer hover' on the place where her loved one is buried, she no longer thinks of love now. It has been fifteen years since he died and now the memory of him has come back to her, even after all this time, after all the 'change and suffering.' Bronte doubts her memories after fifteen years and with time she has forgotten her loved one. But she says, 'forgive if I forget thee,' she justifies why she has moved on, 'other desires and other hopes beset me' but she says they don't lessen her love for him. Bronte was certain that all her life's happiness was gone, 'no second morn has ever shone for me' she knew no happiness without her love. All her happiness came from her love being alive and now that he is dead, all her 'life's bliss is in the grave' with him. ...read more.


I loved both these poems for different reasons. I loved 'Remembrance for the fact that Bronte is writing this poem based on a fictional memory. It amazes me that she can have such emotion and passion for someone who has died but never really lived. It shows that she has mastered the control of empathy. I feel that as the reader I can relate to the speaker's emotions portrayed in the poem, as we will all eventually experience or suffer loss of some kind in our lives. This thought then provokes the question, 'is it better to have loved and lost than never to have loved at all?' I also love 'Break, Break, Break' as Tennyson reveals why he has been described as 'the saddest of all English poets.' I can appreciate this poem as the blunt, unadorned statements made in the poem show how drab, colourless and meaningless Tennyson's life has become. I love the way the lasting image of this poem is the cold relentlessness of a grey sea and although an example of pathetic fallacy, it is one that stays with me. ?? ?? ?? ?? Laura Smyth ...read more.

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