Star of the Sea : A Postcolonial/Postmodern Voyage into the Irish Famine
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Ellis Bell (Emily Brontë)
“[Merridith] reached into his pocket and placed a book on the table. ‘You left it on the bar. Last night. When you departed. Thought you’d rather like to have it back.’ [Dixon] flipped open the cover and removed from the frontispiece a folded-up banknote that had been serving as a bookmark.
by Ellis Bell
T. C. NEWBY & CO.
‘The prodigal returns to his master,’ he grunted, through a dense mouthful of deep grey smoke.'”
-Star of the Sea, 130
Emily Brontë was born in 1818 in Yorkshire, England, the third child of her Irish father, Patrick Brontë. Brontë’s mother died when she was just three years old, after which she and her siblings “were left very much to themselves in the bleak moorland rectory” (“Emily Brontë”). Other than a single year Brontë and her sister Charlotte spent at a girls’ school, the siblings were educated at home. Brontë spent several years teaching as a young adult, before deciding, along with Charlotte, to study in Brussels so that they could begin a school of their own in England and help support the family (“Emily Brontë”).
In 1846, Charlotte, Emily, and Anne Brontë published a book of poetry under the pseudonyms Currer, Ellis, and Acton Bell, respectively. It was not a great success; just two copies were sold, and “consensus of later criticism has accepted the fact that Emily’s verse alone reveals true poetic genius” (“Emily Brontë”). Brontë’s only novel, Wuthering Heights, was published in December of 1847, to poor reception: critics initially derided it as “too savage, too animal-like, and clumsy in construction” (“Emily Brontë”). Brontë died a year after its publication, in December of 1848, due to tuberculosis, and was buried in Haworth, England (“Emily Brontë”).
Wuthering Heights is a dramatic story of obsessive love, set in an isolated region of Yorkshire. After Cathy Earnshaw and Edgar Linton marry, the embittered Heathcliff, who loves Cathy, “plans a revenge on both families” which continues until Heathcliff’s death (“Emily Brontë”). Unlike the works of her sisters, Brontë’s novel makes “no use of the events of her own life and show[s] no preoccupation with a spinster’s state or a governess’s position” (“Emily Brontë”). Although initial critical reception of the novel was poor, it has since come to be viewed as “one of the finest novels in the English language” (“Emily Brontë”).
Within Star of the Sea, Brontë’s novel demonstrates Dixon's desire to be a successful, lauded author; David Merridith deeply insults Dixon by first insinuating that Dixon himself is Ellis Bell. After Dixon insists that he isn't the author of Wuthering Heights, Merridith mocks the idea that Dixon could ever write such a work of literature. O'Connor also reminds readers of the Brontë family connection to Ireland; David Merridith comments of the novel's setting, "it's so clearly Connemara despite the clever way it's disguised. Connemara, Yorkshire, all poor places" (131). In this way, Brontë is claimed as an Irish writer by both Merridith and O'Connor.
“Emily Bronte.” Encyclopædia Britannica. Encyclopædia Britannica Online. Encyclopædia
Britannica Inc., 2016. Web. 28 Feb. 2016.
O’Connor, Joseph. Star of the Sea. Orlando: Harcourt, 2002. Print.
Researcher/Writer: Audrey Gunn
Technical Designers: Lindsey Atchison and Sarah Liebig
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