Emily Bronte’s poem “Spellbound”

Emily Bronte’s poem, “Spellbound,” is evocative and emotive. Its imagery, saturating nature with vivid emotions, is unforgettable. In dissecting the poem, truly examining it for its constituent parts, one is struck by the mastery with which Bronte is able to manipulate individual words and have them gush with emotions, conjuring up images in the reader’s head effortlessly. In the end, Bronte’s nature is painted as a canvass of entrapment, a majestic masterpiece of beauty that ensnares her imagination but paralyzes her body and soul. Bronte’s first stanza establishes this motif early.

Nature’s prominence in the poem is unmistakable as she cites the power of the night as it envelopes her. Adding to this sense of encirclement is the “wild” character ascribed to the winds, blowing relentlessly. The combination of these two sentiments creates a strong sense of the uncontrollable character of nature; night darkens and cannot be stopped, wild winds cannot be tamed. This sense is only heightened in the next line as Bronte ascribes a tyrannical composition to these forces, binding her—a clear link between the burden of uncontrollable nature and her own sense of paralysis.

She explicitly describes this sense of immobility in the final line of the stanza saying, “I cannot, cannot go. ” Thus, in the first stanza, Bronte is clearly fascinated by nature, but eventually overpowered and immobilized by its unyielding power. In the second stanza, Bronte elaborates on the force of nature, ascribing an empty, lifeless quality to it that simultaneously evokes a sense of momentous serenity. The “giant trees” continue the large scale already created by the night enveloping her and the untamed wind. Yet those trees, like Bronte are burdened, held down by snow—perhaps an allusion to her own feeling of sagging.
The sense of an ominous future is heightened even further with her description of a storm “fast descending,” as she reaffirms her paralysis, again saying that she “cannot go. ” In the third and final stanza, Bronte ties the first two stanzas together. In describing “clouds beyond clouds,” and “wastes beyond wastes,” she reaffirms the crushing endlessness of nature and ties it to her hopelessness. If the world is so large, she feels small; this sentiment perhaps the source of her unmotivated lethargy. Together, the stanzas add up to a message that underscores the power of nature while also highlighting the sagging weight of its enormity.

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