Charlotte Brontë Questions and Answers

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What is the message of the poem "Life" by Charlotte Bronte?

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Initially, the narrator suggests that sometimes life can seem bleak but then the sadness gives way to happier times. She says, "Oft a little morning rain / Foretells a pleasant day." In other words, things might look dark in one moment, but, soon, the darkness dissipates and everything gets bright again. Further, she says, "Sometimes there are clouds of gloom, / But these are transient all." The gloomy times will always pass and lead to happier ones. In fact, the happy times will pass too, and so that is all the more reason we should enjoy them while we have them. She says that we must "Enjoy them as they fly!" At some point, the good times end, and "Death . . . steps in" or "sorrow seems to win"; soon enough, however, "Hope again elastic springs." Hope is "buoyant" and will always return to carry us with its "golden wings." Everything is "transient" then—the good times and the bad, the bright moments as well as the dark—all we must do is keep our courage about us, because it will "quell despair," according to this narrator.

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Bronte's speaker asserts that the way to look at life is optimistically; moreover, she believes that hard times actually make us stronger. She claims that the hard times in life will be fleeting. She also puts forth the belief that experiencing the hard times is what make the good times enjoyable.

The speaker also makes the point that life passes very quickly, and so it is important to spend one's days as cheerfully as possible. She acknowledges that when we lose the ones we care about, we can question the point of life, but she reiterates her belief that hope will return, and that we should embrace it when it does.

The speaker's final words are an exhortation to not shrink from hard times, but to meet them "manfully, fearlessly," because courage can "quell despair."

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