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The Importance of Exile in the Poetry of Seamus Heaney

The Importance of Exile in the Poetry of Seamus Heaney

To be a poet in a culture obsessed with politics is a risky business. Investing poetry with the heavy burden of public meaning only frustrates its flight: however tempting it is to employ one’s poetic talent in the service of a program or an ideology, the result usually has little to do with poetry. This is not to condemn the so-called “literature of engagement”; eye-opening and revealing, it has served its purpose in the unfinished story of our century, and now is certainly no time to call for the poet’s retreat into the “ivory tower” of the self. Preserving the individual voice amidst the amorphous, all-leveling collective must be the first act of poetic will, a launching board from which each poet must start the effort of poetry.

A mere glance at recent Irish history suffices to show a place where this preservation is particularly difficult. The pressures that the bifurcated Irish society exerts on its poets are enormous: taking a political stance is no longer a temptation (this implies a certain luxury of choice on behalf of the tempted) but rather an inescapable reality imposed by the agora of public discourse. Thus the condition of exile becomes the poet’s only way out, the sole means of retaining the autonomy of his poetic voice. More than merely a survival tactic, however, it is a strategy of finding home “elsewhere,” whether in the original language of the island (and today’s minority), as in the case of Nuala Ni Dhomhnaill, or in the larger reality of poetic imagination. Seamus Heaney, who occupies the precarious position of being Ireland’s most famous and accomplished living poet while refusing to become its bard, calls our attention to the role of exi…

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Impact of Society of Charlotte Bronte’s Jane Eyre

Impact of Society on Jane Eyre

For the middle classes, the years preceding the publication of Jane Eyre were a time of turbulence and change from which the family provided a haven of stability and security. At the center of the family stood the “Angel at the hearth” – a Madonna-like wife and mother from whom all morality sprang. Not everyone agreed but the conception was supported by mainstream political and religious beliefs, and girls were taught that they should aspire

not [to] self will, and government by self control,

but submission, and yielding to the control of others,

to live for others; to make complete abnegation of themselves,

and to have no life but in their affections.

Despite some social reforms and widespread debate about the role of women, the idea was tenacious. Soon after Jane Eyre was published, while John Stuart Mill wrote of “a principal of perfect equality” for men and women, Mrs Lynne Linton complained that the Girl of the Period was excessively forward and independent, comparing badly with the “simple and genuine girl of the past”. Many of the middle classes agreed, but not all, and by the end of the century the Girl of the Period had matured into the “New Woman”, a predatory figure who rejected marriage, advocated contraception and wanted independence through paid work. To those like Mrs Linton who supported the status quo this represented a state of anarchy. If society was built upon the family, which in turn depended upon a particular role for woman, to change that role was to threaten the whole structure of society.

Novels and periodicals, widely read at the time, offered a good medium in which to debate the “women’s question”, since the fate meted to characters…

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Internet articles:

Jackson, Mark, The position of middle class women as a context for Bronte’s Jane Eyre,


Landow, George P, In what sense is Jane Eyre a feminist novel?


Steyer, PJ, Jane Eyre, Protofeminist, versus the “third person man”


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