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“Neither Monsters nor Temptresses nor Terrors”:Representing Desire in Charlotte Brontë's Shirley

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  24 October 2008

Julia Gardner
University of California, Riverside


Although romance QUA romance is often seen as leading to the grim finality of the Victorian marriage plot, Charlotte Brontë's second novel, Shirley (1849), thwarts readerly expectations. Brontë cautions the reader that “if you think, from this prelude, that anything like a romance is preparing for you, reader, you never were more mistaken,” but also teases that “it is not positively affirmed that you shall not have a taste of the exciting” (39; ch. 1). This disavowal, coupled with contradicting hints of romance, appears in the second paragraph of Shirley and establishes the vexed dynamic surrounding the marriage plot present throughout the novel.

Editors' Topic: Charlotte Bronté
Copyright © Cambridge University Press 1998

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