Emily Bronte, born a clergyman's daughter, did not suffer from the religious torment of sin and guilt like her sisters, Anne and Charlotte, and as a matter of fact she was relatively at peace with herself (Knapp 39). Although Bronte was happy with herself she mainly kept to her family, and was very introverted throughout her life. She expressed her thoughts through writing under the pseudonym of Ellis Bell, early in her writing years, for secrecy was important to her (Vine 3). She continued to express her thoughts, and through writing often wrote about her belief in God. Bronte has published various books and poems, including one of her most infamous poem "No Coward Soul Is Mine", which portrays the idea of her faith. The poem also reflects what Bronte believed in her own personal life relating to religion and matters such as death. Although this is the last poem Bronte wrote, she still conveyed through her powerful writing style her passion for God, and the beliefs in which she held close to herself. In Emily Bronte's "No Coward Soul Is Mine", Bronte uses first-person point of view to portray her faith in God through her style in which she writes, how God and religion relates to herself, and the description of God in relation to the rest of mankind.
Bronte's first-person point of view in "No Coward Soul Is Mine" greatly attributes to the feeling of passion the narrator has for God. The reader is drawn in with the first line of the poem that just happens to be the same as the title. This iterates at the beginning of the poem that the narrator, who is assumed to be Bronte, is not afraid because of the strong belief she holds. Some might think that her soul can be cowardly because she turns to someone else when feared, but whoever thinks this does not understand the concept of God. The concept can be grasped in that God ultimately transforms a person's life when accepted into their lives. The trust in God's faith gives someone the courage to move on with their ending life here on Earth, but to know that someday that they will live in the presence of God forever. Bronte then shows an example of not fearing death in the sixth stanza saying, "Though earth and man were gone, And suns and universes ceased to be, And Thou wert left alone, Every existence would exist in Thee" (Bronte 948). This first person point of view sets up the theme that no matter what stands in her way, including death, because of the unwavering love and trust of God there is nothing that needs to be feared.
Assumed to be Bronte, the narrator, which happens to be the only character pertaining to this poem, relates to God on her own personal level throughout this piece of literature. The narrator can be examined by the thoughts and dialogue Bronte has incorporated into "No Coward Soul Is Mine" in which she believes in God. Bronte puts all trust in God even through the imagery of a horrific storm in which Bronte only see's "...Heaven's glories shine, And faith shines equal, arming me from fear" (Bronte 948). One can see that Bronte uses God as "armor" to protect her from the horrors of this world whether it is a natural disaster or the belief of different social norms for her time period. For Bronte not even the subject of life and death is an issue for her. "...the sense of continuous life-one central, all sustaining Life-of the oneness of God and man, has never been more nobly expressed than inâ€¦["No Coward Soul Is Mine]" (Abbey 74). She is sure in God that even when the Earth is gone she will remain with Him, and that nothing can destroy the faith and love Bronte has for God. Through this poem Bronte also expresses her aversion of other people, who do not hold the same belief as her, yet instead they hold on to something fake in which they do not have a chance of life after death; therefore, their soul is cowardly and should be fearful of death.
Bronte tries to influence nonbelievers in the poem, and relate to them how their life is useless without the faith of God. This is evident in the third and fourth stanza in the poem. She describes men who hold their own beliefs as "unutterably vain" and "worthless as withered weeds" (Bronte 948). One again the connection of death is depicted for the people who do not believe in God when she states how they are worthless and withered weeds. Weeds are usually picked and thrown away when they are not withered for they are ugly and distort a garden; however, when they go unnoticed until they are withered or dead it shows that nobody even cares enough to look their way during their life span. The relationship can be stated as if a life went uncared about while someone lived; consequently, provoking the thought of what kind of life that person will have once the soul has left the body. Bronte knows that there is no life after death worth living if God is not accepted into someone's life. Yet Bronte is trying to encourage people to accept God as shown in the fifth stanza when she lists how God can change a person's life. "Changes, sustain, dissolves, creates, and rears" (Bronte 948) are just some of the life changing actions God will take to make a person's life new. Bronte knows this, and pleas for people to have faith in something more powerful than anything materialistic on this Earth. Even though the obvious message in the third and fourth stanza is to have faith, one can explore deeper to see that Bronte may be belittling organized religious faiths. "Emily's last poem, "No coward soul is mine," sums upâ€¦herâ€¦distaste for and rejection of organized religion. Confident in her beliefs, feelings, and identity she knew her way in life at a very early age" (Knapp 101). Bronte seems very adamant in the way she believes in God as expressed through this poem. Her idea of faith comes through as a very simple faith in which there is nothing that can secure one's faith to God other than just simply believing in what God has to offer and not to fall for anything that can create sin and guilt. Because of her early childhood in which she grew up around the church it is expected that Bronte would be religious. Although religious, she was very introverted compared to her other sisters, and this reflected her attitude toward organized churches (Knapp 101). It can be perceived that Bronte thinks the relationship between God and another person should be on a personal level and not necessarily shared among other people.
Bronte does an exceptional job of getting across her feelings for God by the use of her style of writing. The poem is filled with symbolism, imagery, and language that can provoke the reader because of the passionate and emotional tone used. One can compare the symbolic meaning of "storm-trouble sphere" in the first stanza, and the vanishing earth, suns, and universes in the sixth stanza. The images can strike awe within the reader, but also symbolizes that everything that is in this Earth will eventually come to an end. A storm that can destroy the most precious things in life as witnessed in the past with unfortunate natural disasters, or the end of that world that is assumed will eventually come evokes a thought of panic unless the faith of God is present and strong in one's life. Bronte uses many thought provoking lines within the poem to persuade the reader to really take into perspective a life without faith. Not only are these two lines symbolic of the world ending, but also to create an image of loneliness and darkness. Bronte also incorporates imagery of light and an unbreakable, everlasting bond such as when she wrote "I see Heaven's glories shine" (Bronte 948). She compares God to a "steadfast rock of immortality" (Bronte 948) to illustrate the point that God is strong and can last forever. The tone of voice that she uses throughout the poem can be described as accusatory, or it can invoke a sense of awe and wonderment. In the third stanza Bronte accuses people of not having faith, and calls them out in such a way that they are nothing without God. She uses a simile and metaphor within this stanza to prove her point in that they are worthless. She then compares God to something as solid as a rock, and tries to convince them to have something solid such as God in their lives. Although she uses a harsh tone within the third stanza, she also softens her tone to express how close she holds her faith to her. "O God within my breast, Almighty, ever-present Deity" (Bronte 948) shows how she is in awe with God, and that he is her everything in life. Also when she states "THOU art Being and Breath" (Bronte 948) it illustrates that God is on such a high level that he compares to the most vital things needed to live while on Earth. This poem is written in a way that it is reflective of Bronte's life, and makes other readers think of God within their own life.
Emily Bronte's last poem "No Coward Soul Is Mine", illustrates how she believed the world should have faith in God. The title highlights what the whole poem is about in which Bronte is not fearful of anything, especially dying. She knows that her soul is going to a more glorious place after her life on Earth; therefore, she has nothing to fear. "Bronte calls upon God, and finds God within herself" (Benvenuto 71) in the poem, and consequently the reader can tell that God plays the most influential part in her life. Not only does the poem portray what she thought when she was composing this piece of art, but also gives insight on what she was like in real life. Bronte then continues to connect God to other people, and try to influence them to evaluate their life if God is not in it. Through her excellent and various uses of writing styles she shows the reader how passionate she is in her beliefs. She creates images in one's mind that provokes critical thinking, and through her use of tone the reader can pick up on various emotions such as, the urgency of her message to have faith in God. "No Coward Soul Is Mine" leaves the reader thinking about their own life. Whether it be that maybe they should accept faith in God, or evaluating their own life with God already in it, readers leave with an understanding of how Bronte felt while composing this piece of timeless literature.