The Creative Soul of Emily Bronte: A Study of the Role of Self-Reflective Learning Theory in the Development of a Writing Genius

Article excerpt

Introduction

Many Bronte researchers have tried to put their own interpretations upon the Bronte novels, characters, settings, poetry, and more. This paper does not seek to interpret, but rather to discover from Emily Bronte's own words any evidence of her mastery of the art of creative writing. The goal is not to interpret upon whom from her life Heathcliff might have been based, if anyone, or from what sprang her inspiration for the inter-generational story line of her only novel. Many others have already attempted this, some to the original author's credit and others not. This research into Emily Bronte's life, learning, and writings stems from a sincere desire to glean a greater insight into how someone so truly talented as a writer honed her skills with such little formal training. The search is for a discovery of reflection in practice by letting Emily Bronte's words speak for themselves, as much as possible, and to uncover to what extent Emily may have used self-reflection as a means for self-discovery and self-improvement.

This study also seeks to uncover whether or not Emily Bronte's self-reflective practices contributed to her writing abilities and if so, how and to what extent. As very little of Emily's original personal writings have been preserved, it is a challenge to accurately locate truthful representations of her self-reflection in practice. These do exist, however, in what remain of her letters, diary and journal papers, and essays. Even her poetry shows reflection and may perhaps reveal the most about the creative soul of this near elusive individual. The words of others concerned with the accurate representation of Emily Bronte can and will be relied upon as well, especially the words of family members. Bronte's use of reflective learning theory in practice adds a new dimension to this well researched and respected woman writer of the nineteenth century.

Definition of Self-reflection

To reflect upon something means to truly think deeply about something, to ponder over it, perhaps evaluate its worth or potential. "Reflection includes thinking about one's own actions and thoughts, taking other people's point of view, and understanding oneself (Zuckerman 2004, 9). Self-reflection would then mean to truly think about some aspect of self. Self-reflection could mean searching for value and meaning in something one has done or something one has created. Self-reflection could also mean creating a project to express self.

Writing in a journal, for example, is an expression of self where the writer might share inner feelings about what he or she has done or not done, or the writer might share plans for the future. A second step would follow in this form of self-reflection. The writer would return to the original journal entry at an agreed-upon future time to analyze how much of what was proposed to have happened has actually taken place as planned. This activity could offer opportunity for self-analysis and self-evaluation, to judge good and bad qualities in one's self. This self-reflection would provide opportunity for looking as successes and failures with the goal of making one's future better than one's past, or even present, situation.

Expressions of creative self-reflection take many forms. For writers, going beyond journal writing and diary entries, such self-reflective expressions often include letters or forms of short informal writings including poetry and short autobiographical pieces. Short stories and novels even comprise a reflection of self for many. Visual artists express self-reflection in sketches, drawings, sculptures, paintings, or another creative medium. Self-reflection can bring about a sense of self-fulfillment for the creative individual, or become the basis for self-examination with the purpose of self-improvement, as stated in the previous paragraph. Self-reflective creations are often made in response to some particular event in one's life or as a means to express inner doubts, anxieties, or some otherwise unexpressed emotion. …