(In this post I share the thoughts that have impressed me the most upon finishing “Shirley” by Charlotte Brontë. Please be careful if you do not wish to be spoiled on any details within the book. You are always welcome to come back and share what stood out to you. 😊)
“The story is told. I think I now see the judicious reader putting on his spectacles to look for the moral. It would be an insult to his sagacity to offer directions. I only say, God speed him in the quest!” (Chapter XXXVII)
This story was such a delight. Overall, it was quite different from Villette and Jane Eyre in terms of plot. However, the craft and style was still the same.
One of the things I was intrigued about this novel was that it would be written in the third person. I wanted to see how it would play out. I was so used to her first person writing and being within the main character’s mind, I wasn’t too sure I would like it. But Charlotte Brontë still managed to create such an engaging and even entertaining narrator. I loved it! A few moments that stand out to me were when the narrator engages us to peer over Louis Moore’s shoulder to get a glimpse of what he was writing. That was fun. Or when the narrator would delight over the choice of words she would use. Or, when the narrator suggested that it was not necessary to read a whole chapter. Not read a whole chapter? I don’t think so lol. Of course curiosity got the best of me, and I read it. And of course, she was right it wasn’t really necessary to the story but I’m still glad I read it. There were other ways she engaged us as a reader but those are the ones that come to mind for now.
Another thing that stood out to me was how colorful this book was throughout with the descriptions of different flowers. I’d often go to google and look up the flowers she would mention so now I have images of beautiful flowers saved to my phone. Towards the end, I realized that the narrator was telling the story of a setting in time that no longer existed. The place as described in the story no longer looks as beautiful due to the changes brought about by industrialization. I think that’s why there may have been a lot of descriptive writing which I enjoyed. Although, I still don’t understand exactly who was telling the story but it was interesting how it was revealed towards the end. All I know is that she was talking to someone named Martha, a housekeeper but not sure who the person speaking might be. I wasn’t sure if it got the impression that the narrator was related to Caroline or Shirley or simply knew of them. I would have to reread to see if I can understand.
Lastly, Shirley. She won my heart. I love how particular she was about who she would marry because she knew that she wanted to be instructed by this person. She wanted him to be benevolent and have good judgement. My favorite part was her exchange with Louis Moore when they expressed their feelings for one another. I especially loved what Shirley said:
“Mr. Moore,’ said she, looking up with a sweet, open, earnest countenance, ‘teach me and help me to be good. I do not ask you to take off my shoulders all the cares and duties of property, but I ask you to share the burden, and to show me how to sustain my part well. Your judgment is well balanced, your heart is kind, your principles are sound. I know you are wise; I feel you are benevolent; I believe you are conscientious. Be my companion through life; “be my guide where I am ignorant; be my master where I am faulty; be my friend always!” (Chapter XXXVI)
There were many other things that I admired about this novel but for now, these are the things that impressed on me the most.
“Her book has perhaps been a good one; it has refreshed, refilled, rewarmed her heart; it has set her brain astir, furnished her mind with pictures.” (Chapter XXII)
Thank you for reading!