The Brontës and Religion by Marianne Thormählen

By Marianne Thormählen

This is often the 1st full-length examine of faith within the fiction of the Brontës. Drawing on large wisdom of the Anglican church within the 19th century, Marianne Thormählen indicates how the Brontës' familiarity with the modern debates on doctrinal, moral and ecclesiastical concerns informs their novels. Divided into 4 components, the e-book examines denominations, doctrines, ethics and clerics within the Brontës' paintings. Lucid and vigorously written, it is going to open up new views for Brontë experts and fanatics alike on a primary point of the novels enormously overlooked in fresh many years.

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An impassioned paragraph in Villette describes the glories which the Roman priesthood withholds from those whom it directs, ending with the triumphant assertion that God’s pardon can extend even to this body of men: Oh, lovers of power! Oh, mitred aspirants for this world’s kingdoms! an hour will come, even to you, when it will be well for your hearts – pausing faint at each broken beat – that there is a Mercy beyond human compassions, a Love stronger than this strong death which even you must face, and before it, fall; a Charity more potent than any sin, even yours; a Pity which redeems worlds – nay, absolves Priests.

Two Haworth curates who believed in apostolical succession – anathema to No-Popery tractwriters – lost none of her affection as a result; she even married one of them. Her attacks on Roman Catholicism became truly intense in two contexts only: first, when she castigated the features that seemed to her to deaden reason and common sense, of whose importance as controllers of feeling she was so sharply aware; second, when the manifestations of that faith conflicted with the quest for truth and the insistence on personal integrity and spiritual liberty which dominated both her life and her art.

In its comfortable contemplation of a mixed marriage, Villette actually agrees with the attitudes of later ages in these matters, obviously going against the notions that prevailed in its own time. Both in works of fiction and in real life, close and loving proximity between Protestants and Roman Catholics was generally seen as problematic, if not impossible.  However, Villette was not unique in allowing persons from different faiths engaged in conversion projects to develop warm feelings for one another.

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