Ambivalence in Love A Study of the Two Heroines in Charlotte Brontë’s Shirley
Chitra Sreedharan
The present paper attempts to analyse the characters of the two heroines in Charlotte Brontë’s third novel, Shirley, based on Karen Horney’s theories of personality. At one level, they are a striking contrast to each other. Caroline Helstone belongs to the ‘self-effacing’ type as described by Horney, while Shirley falls under the ‘narcissistic’ type categorised under personalities who display expansive tendencies. At the same time, both betray the presence of contradictory impulses owing to the presence of ‘basic anxiety’ within. This manifests itself particularly when they fall in love- there is a compulsive desire for love and at the same time, a fear of losing their identities. This produces a great deal of ambivalence in their relationships with their lovers, Robert and Louis Moore. Though the novel does end with the marriages of the two heroines to their respective partners, it does not produce the ‘they lived happily-ever-after’ effect that her earlier novel, Jane Eyre produced.
Article Details
Unique Paper ID: 158130

Publication Volume & Issue: Volume 9, Issue 8

Page(s): 754 - 761
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