Anne Brontë and Universal Salvation

Research Unit member and final-year undergraduate student Edwin Marr has shared the following piece discussing the work he is doing for his major project dissertation on Anne Brontë. 

Edwin also created an excellent research poster for his project which you can view here


‘God will Reconcile All Things to Himself:’ Anne Brontë and Universal Salvation.

For such a close-knit family, the Brontës held remarkably disparate views when it came to religion, even more surprising when one considers their father, Patrick Brontë, was an Anglican vicar. Yet Patrick encouraged ‘free inquiry,’ (McKnight, 2011, p.22) in Theological issues, and as seen by the arrival of his late wife’s sister, the Methodist Elizabeth Branwell into the Haworth Parsonage, he had no qualms allowing dissenters under his roof. Charlotte Brontë likewise seemed to have a liberal attitude when it came to unorthodox groups, actively critiquing those who oppose them, labelling anti-Dissenters, ‘bigoted, intolerant and wholly unjustifiable.’ (Thormählen, 1999, p.19) She writes in a letter to her friend Ellen Nussey, ‘some rays from the shire of truth pierce the darkness of this life and world; but they are few, faith and scattered, and who without presumption can assert that he has found the only true path upwards?’ (Thormählen, 1999, p.20) Charlotte Brontë seems to be suggesting that there is more than one path to find Christian truth, instead recognising the role of differing religious groups, who each might find one piece of the whole picture of doctrinal truth.

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Following the recent 20-part BBC series, Unit member Professor Valerie Purton has written a review for the Journal of Victorian Culture that details her ‘conversion from refusnik to admirer’.  In advance of its publication, I’m including her concluding comments here:

Dickens’s early nickname for himself was, ironically, ‘the Inimitable’ – ironically, because perhaps no author since Shakespeare has been so imitated, adapted, borrowed from, shared with the world. Adaptations of Oliver Twist were being staged while the young author was still struggling to write the next number.  Going to the theatre at this time, he observed dryly that he had found on stage ‘some old and particular friends’. However, his objections to plagiarism seem to have been on the grounds of potential lost revenue rather than of literary principle. He also hated monumentalising, by which he meant statues and all such static tributes. Dickensian is the opposite: it is in every sense a ‘moving’ tribute to the vitality of Dickens’s imagination – from the silhouettes bustling through the opening titles to the breath-taking liberty taken in making Mrs Cratchit the murderess of Jacob Marley. The final episode, having wrung every last drop of emotion from the plights of Miss Havisham and the about-to-be Lady Dedlock, gave itself up to outrageous playfulness, with most of the cast gathered in the Queen Vic/Three Cripples ( ‘Collect the empties from Mr Pickwick’s table!’) and the action of the actual novels about to begin.  ‘Ebenezer Scrooge!’ intones the ghostly voice of Jacob Marley…