An Explication of “Spellbound” by Emily Bronte
Have you ever found yourself knowing that you were in a predicament but had been incapable of finding the strength to leave it behind? The poem “Spellbound” by Emily Bronte relates to the idea of being unable to force oneself from a damaging situation. This can be seen through a careful examination of the poem’s title and its three stanzas. The title of Emily Bronte’s poem says volumes about the meaning. To grasp the full meaning of the title, one must break the word up into three parts: spell, bound, and spellbound.
When thinking of a spell, one may think of something positive or something negative. Based on Dictionary. com, two definitions of a spell are “a state or period of enchantment,” and “any dominating or irresistible influence. ” One can argue that both definitions have a positive and negative side. The word bound is said by the same dictionary to mean to “keep within limits or confines,” to be “under legal or moral obligation,” and to be “destined; sure; certain.
” As can clearly be seen, the multiple definitions of the word bound can have different connotations.
The word spellbound, again from the same dictionary, is defined as “bound by or as if by a spell,” and “having one’s attention held as though one is bound by a spell. ” These divergent definitions also show the complexity of the title’s meaning. Based on the dictionary definitions of the three important words within the word spellbound, one may come to a few conclusions about the meaning of the title. Looking at the title positively, one could say that the title indicates that the poem is about someone being enchanted by something. Oppositely, one could say that the title JT 2 ndicates that the meaning of the poem is about someone being forcefully bound to something. Through an examination of the poem’s stanzas, one can see that the second take on the poem is more likely. Though the title says a lot about the poem, one cannot base his or her ideas about the theme of the poem solely on the title. The stanzas play an important role in piecing together the meaning of “Spellbound. ” By only examining the first stanza, one can already understand the title more clearly. This stanza begins the poem by introducing the main idea.
Line one immediately grabs the reader into the poem by using strong words that portray intense imagery. When the reader hears the words “night” and “darkening,” it is apparent that the poem is going to be dark, both in a literal and a figurative sense. The metaphors about nighttime are seen throughout this first stanza, as well as throughout the rest of the poem. By stating that the night “is” darkening at that moment in time, the poem is showing that the situation is in the present. This is important to the poem because it helps the reader to see the true feelings that the character has about his or her situation.
Additionally, this allows for a deeper understanding of the situation which the character is in. The next two lines of the first stanza further show the darkness of the poem. When something is cold, it is not often seen as something peaceful. Also, the alliteration in “wild winds” helps to draw attention to the connection between the words. This alliteration helps the reader to see that something bad is happening. Through the third line, the reader may begin to further question what is happening to the character. This line states that the character is “bound” by a “tyrant spell,” with tyrant indicating that it is something harmful.
The fourth line of the stanza functions as the way in which the first three lines are brought together. This last line, helped by the repetition of the word “cannot,” shows that the character is completely unable to escape from the situation he or she is in. JT 3 The second stanza of the poem builds on the ideas of the first stanza. Through the use of more imagery, the first two lines contribute to the idea of something bad and dark happening. Looking at the first line, when one thinks of large trees, one most likely thinks of the trees as being sturdy and tough.
If a sturdy tree is bending, it indicates that there is a heavy storm, which is not seen as something good. The second line furthers this idea with the indication that the boughs on the tree have a lot of snow on top of them. The weighted snow could be a metaphor for something bothersome weighing on a person. This line shows the idea from the end of the first stanza that the character is in a situation which she or he cannot escape. There is a lot of weight currently being put on the character’s shoulders and he or she feels as if they cannot run from the situation.
The third line of this stanza seems to begin a new idea. This line seems to state that the “storm” or the bad situation is starting to go away quickly. This makes it seem as if the poem will have a happy ending and the character will be able to escape from the bad situation he or she is in. The last line of this stanza, however, quickly reverts back to the negative. The tone in this line seems to be very hopeless through the use of the word “yet. ” The author is indicating in this line that the character is still unable to move from the bad situation even though it seems as if it is clearing up.
The final stanza of the poem clears up why this is the case for the character of “Spellbound. ” The final stanza of the poem pieces together the developing ideas regarding the theme of the poem. Again, the theme seems to be that the protagonist is unable to move him- or herself away from a harmful situation. The final stanza helps to answer the question of why the character in unable to breakaway. The first two lines of this stanza use many repetitions of words. Seemingly, the more important words that are repeated are “clouds” in the first line and “wastes” in the second.
The first line seems to say that there is something clouding the JT 4 character’s vision so that he or she is unable to make a wise decision. The second line adds to this point by showing that the character’s vision is also obscured through “wastes” below her or him. Wastes can also indicate that the character feels hopeless. The third line shows that the character cannot be moved by anything “drear,” or depressing. In other words, the character is not capable of escaping from the dark situation he or she is in. This line serves as a way to sum up the idea of the poem before the reader is hit with the final line.
The last line of the poem is very powerful. Like the last line of every stanza, it contains repetition. The repetition is used as a device to show that the line is meaningful to the poem. But, this time, the author uses the words “will not” as well as “cannot. ” The words “will not” show that the protagonist is completely stuck in the situation – they are refusing to escape it. The “cannot” then further emphasizes this idea by stating that even if the character wanted to, she or he could not escape the damaging situation due to a lack of strength.
By performing an explication, or a line-by-line analysis, on the poem “Spellbound” by Emily Bronte, one is able to see very clearly that the poem is about a character being unable to force her- or himself from a devastating situation due to a lack of strength. Because the exact circumstance of the protagonist is not obvious, it is very easy for readers to relate to the poem. This is due to the fact that most people have found themselves in a situation that they have been unable to escape from. These situations could range from something not-so-serious to something severe.
The possibilities of situations that could relate to this poem are nearly endless; an example is a situation in which someone is being sexually abused but is afraid to tell someone because of the perpetrator’s threats. Ultimately, “Spellbound” can prompt intelligent conversation regarding the use of literary devices within the poem as well as help readers to see that they are not alone in the hardships of life. JT 5 Works Cited Barnet, Sylvan, William Burto, and William E. Cain. “Spellbound. ” An Introduction to Literature: Fiction, Poetry, and Drama. Boston: Longman, 2011. Print.
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An Explication of “Spellbound” by Emily Bronte. (2016, Sep 30). Retrieved from https://graduateway.com/an-explication-of-spellbound-by-emily-bronte/