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Emily Brontë and Dogs: Transformation Within the Human-Dog Bond

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This paper examines the bond between humans and dogs as demonstrated in the life and work of Emily Bronte (1818-1848). The nineteenth century author, publishing under the pseudonym, Ellis Bell, evinced, both in her personal and professional life, the complex range of emotions explicit in the human-dog bond: attachment and companionship to domination and abuse. In Wuthering Heights, Brontë portrays the dog as scapegoat, illustrating the dark side of the bond found in many cultures. Moreover, she writes with awareness of connections - unknown in the nineteenth century - between animal abuse and domestic violence. In her personal life, Brontë's early power struggles with her companion animal mastiff, Keeper, evolve into a caring relationship. In a human-dog bond transformation that survives Brontë's death, Keeper, becomes both bridge and barrier to other human relationships. A dog may, and in this case Keeper does, take on a comprehensive role in which he both mourns his own loss and comforts others in their collective grief.


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