The Brontës

Upon re-reading Jane Eyre plus too much Wikipedia

The race and class and
feminist implications of
Thornfield Hall and all that
shit not to mention Marxist, Marxian, antinatalist
(no that doesn't fit)
the beauty of Miss Brontë's
1850 chalk portrait
pronounced pore-trait
(by George Richmond,
acolyte of Blake)
so like Bertha's beauty
before her fall from grace;1
the hyperemesis gravidarum nausea
that did the author in2
farewell to Angria3
over again
only well after
Maria and Elizabeth,
Branwell with the tremens,
Jane and Anne
plus Helen;4
the bacillus that could have saved
not yet invented,5
and one long century
the bacterium that ravaged7
the isolate of artists
who over time won over
the fictional world,
whom we follow—
though none succeed.8

1 In Jane Eyre, Rochester’s mixed-race wife Bertha is portrayed as beautiful, but depraved and insane, manifesting common prejudices of Charlotte Brontë’s time.

2 Charlotte, the only Brontë sibling not killed by tuberculosis, died of the effects of an extreme form of morning sickness, known as hyperemesis gravidarum, after becoming pregnant shortly after marrying.

3 The Empire of Angria was a fictional world developed collaboratively by the Brontë children. Farewell to Angria was Charlotte’s final contribution to the Angria stories, which she broke from due to concerns about her own sanity.

4 In Jane Eyre, Jane’s girls-school classmate, Helen, dies when tuberculosis sweeps through the school. Her character was inspired by Maria Brontë.

5 The Bacillus Calmette–Guérin (BCG) vaccine for tuberculosis was first used in humans in 1921.

6 The antibiotic streptomycin, developed in 1946, made effective treatment of tuberculosis a reality.

7 Mycobacterium tuberculosis was the cause of death of five of the six Brontë children.

8 “Due to their forced or voluntary isolation, the Brontë sisters constituted a separate literary group that neither had predecessors nor successors. There is not a ‘Brontë’ line such as exists among authors of realist and naturalist novels, or in poetry, the romantic and the symbolic.”—Wikipedia


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