An Analysis of the Literary Techniques Used to Depict Sadness in Bronte’s Cold in the Earth

June 7, 2022 by Essay Writer

How does Emily Bronte convey a sense of sadness in Cold in the Earth?

This poem is about the loss of her husband, and the emotional and physical pain it has inflicted on her. This poem is a lament and therefore has a consistent sense of sadness conveyed throughout the poem. The cacophonous start to the poem, with the phrase “Cold in the earth”, reflects the speakers emotions and how they are feeling. This phrase is repeated three times, in the title, in stanza one and in stanza three; the repetition of this phrase further reinforces the deliverance of the idea that the speaker is feeling emotionally “cold”. This is further reinforced later when the poet states “the deep snow piled above thee”. This shows to the reader that she is feeling traumatized and conveys a sense of upset. There is also a dash between these two phrases in the first line. This is done deliberately as it makes the reader pause and contemplate, which portrays a sense of mourning.

Repetition is a device that is used quite a lot by this poet, when the speaker says “far, far removed”, the repetition of far reinforces the physical and metaphorical distance that the speaker is feeling towards her husband, as he is no longer alive. This idea of detachment is reinforced later when the speaker says, “Severed at last by time”. The word “Severed” is a physical word and shows that the bond between her and her husband was strong but over time it got weaker. It also displays the pain that she felt when the abyss between them was ever getting larger, as the word has connotations of slicing or cutting through something. The speaker then questions herself, “Have I forgot”, this shows that the speaker is almost feeling a sense of guilt for not thinking about her husband constantly. This phrase clearly conveys a sense of sadness and shows that this is a poem of torment, it shows that she is emotionally struggling on how to come to terms with how to feel.

The speakers transition is clear to the reader, especially when she says that “Now, when alone, do my thoughts no longer hover”. This shows that now, after “fifteen wild Decembers”, she does not continually think about him. The effect this has on the reader is that they feel more of a connection to the speaker, as they have seen her transition from a state of complete depression, to a more positive state of mind, though still filled with devastation. This allows the speaker to convey her sense of sadness more efficiently to the reader. This idea is further reinforced when the speaker discusses the “Hopes, which obscure, but cannot do thee wrong!”. This means that for her, life must go on, and that her other thoughts, feelings and “hopes” sometimes cover up thoughts of her husband. However, she urgently states that this cannot do him any wrong, this sense of urgency is demonstrated through the use of an exclamation mark. This could be because a feeling of guilt had overtaken her, thinking about things, other than her husband.

At this point in the poem the reader feels as if the mood is a bit more positive as she is not completely obsessing over her husband, but this is completely undercut in stanza five, when she says that “no later light has lightened up my heaven”. This shows that although she doesn’t think of him constantly now, she still has not found anyone else, that could have replaced him. This was maybe deliberately included because she felt guilty of not thinking of him regularly and therefore this accurately conveys the sadness that she is still feeling. The line at the end of this stanza is incredibly powerful and shows full emotion, “All my life’s bliss is in the grave with thee”. This is a very emotional line for the reader to read, as it is stating that all of the love she had to offer, is down in the grave with her husband, she is saying that she believes that she could never love anyone else, and therefore creates a sense of devastation, which the reader picks up.

The reader then understand that she didn’t even want to be alive at one point, and that she had to “sternly” deny the “burning wish to hasten down to that time”. This depicts the lowest point that she was feeling and shows her suicidal thoughts to the reader. In the penultimate stanza the open vowel sounds, reflect the strength she needed in order to fight these suicidal feelings that she was having, and therefore accurately represent the hardship and destruction that the speaker went through.

The last paragraph of this poem explains how just remembering how she felt, during the early days of her mourning, could bring up old memories, that feel like a “rapturous pain”. This oxymoron is extremely effective in conveying how the speaker feels as it shows that the old memories, although they’re great to remember, they always inflict deep pain on her, therefore she tries to avoid it. This displays her sadness to the reader very efficiently, as it shows that the happy memories she has of her husband, always bring on great depression. The poets last line has a massive impact on the reader. “How could I seek the empty world again?”, shows how she is still alone and it is a plaintive end. The poet deliberately ends on a question as it reinforces the loneliness that she is feeling and that she is all alone; she asks a question, but there is no response.

In conclusion the poets use of cacophonous language, repetition and the attachment she creates towards the readers enforce and accurately convey the sense of sadness


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