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38                          THE  BRONTE  SISTERS
Clearly they are exceptionally powerful story-tellers;
original in subject-matter, penetrating in characterization,
compelling in narrative. Their fine pictures of Yorkshire
life and landscape are their most obvious merit. With
Charlotte and Anne a deeper interest is provided by their
poignant presentation, fromrwithin, of the woman humble
and insignificant yet nobly independent, finely intelligent,
ardently passionate. Charlotte especially seems to me with
respect to women to herald, before its dawn, the modern
worldone does not meet women such as hers again in
English fiction till the turn of the twentieth century. Emily
stands alone in her portrayal of timeless and elemental
human passions.
But when this has been said, we have not yet explained
the Brontes' special claim on our attention, which consists
in the unique and beautiful quality, the highly individual
flavour, of their work. Although each sister has her own
nature, they share this quality in common, though in
varying degree.
No other British writer has this quality. It is a strange
compound, a unique blend, of poetry with prose, of the
wild and free with the domestic, of wisdom with innocence,
of irony with intensity, of realism with romance. I suggest
that it resulted from the fusion in their spirit of their Celtic
heredity with their Yorkshire environment. Yorkshire
gave them their robust and relentless realism, their tenacious
honesty, their energy, their stubborn belief in equality and
freedom; their Celtic parentage provided their ardour, their
intensity, their proud melancholy, their flowing speech.
The Haworth moorland, their loneliness and suffering
intensified the Celtic side of their nature; the prosaic
experiences of their Industrial-Revolution Yorkshire lives
developed that ironic realism which is so often the woman's
defence against stultifying domestic detail. They dealt
with the Celtic-Yorkshire psychological situation with vary-
ing degrees of success; Charlotte and Branwell were always
ill at ease with the diverse elements of their natures, and