Emerging womanhood in the characterization of shirley and caroline by charlotte bronte

Author: 
Ramachandra Rao P

There is a large amount of critical attention on Charlotte’s Shirley. Charlotte has used narrative technique in the characterisation of two heroines, Caroline and Shirley. This novel has both the historical romance and psychological romance. The entire novel has women’s question. It indicates the sexual territory in Victorian culture. Both Caroline and Shirley lead dissatisfactory life. As Shirley is not even introduced until chapter XI and Caroline is not introduced until V chapter, readers have some doubt about the portrayal of these heroines. If she is good Caroline has been arrested in the house due to the conventions of the Victorian era. As she does not have parents she is protected by her uncle, the Rector. As she was kept in the high garret room she had unhappy childhood. She loves Robert Moore, who is her distant relative. She supports Robert when he is plunged into financial difficulties. She loves Robert
excluding his harsh behaviour on workers. She thinks that love is a two way process. Robert’s eyes on Shirley makes Caroline restless one. Shirley is bordering on manliness. As she has independent and outspoken nature she resembles Emily Bronte, sister of Charlotte Bronte. On the other hand she is a woman of charity. It is appeared when she supplies clothes to the children. Resilience is her amazing quality. On anticipating Louis Moore’s honest treatment Shirley marries Louis Moore. This leads to double marriage as the four characters, Caroline, Robert, Shirley and Louis have involved in psychological romance especially it comes through the awareness of Caroline. If the Victorian culture is a coin Caroline’s nature is head and Shirley’s nature is tail. At the same time both Caroline have common characteristic features. It is the success of Charlotte Bronte in portraying two sides of a same coin

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