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The poem "Hope" is an antithesis. It actually is about how Hope can be cruel at times and simply flies you by when you need it the most. In itself, it is a sad and kind of cruel poem because it presents Hope as a "timid friend."
Bronte makes an allegorical notation to hopelessness when she mentions the phrase, "She sat without the grated den". A "grated den" is the place where animals would be placed before a savage show in ancient Rome. It is also associated with the place in which Daniel was incarcerated with lions (which he defeated).
Hence, we can assume that what Bronte means to say is that Hope can be cruel. We watch her losing her battles to fate, and hope, like a cruel enemy, decides to simply keep moving and abandon the speaker. Hope is cruel enough without even needing a grated den of beasts to devour the writer alive. Hope's coldness and lack of support were murderous enough for her.
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