Date of Award
Zonana, Joyce; Doll, Dan
Inconsistencies in character and structural development inform criticism of Charlotte Bronte's Shirley. I argue that the phases of emotional and physical illness that the heroine, Caroline Helstone, undergoes mirror the stages of individuation observed by Jung. I suggest that Bronte uses the Demeter-Kore myth—which Jung saw as an archetypal expression of female transformative experience—as an underlying plot structure for her novel. The division of the novel into three volumes mirrors significant stages of individuation and major plot shifts in the "Hymn." Persephone's abduction and Demeter's wandering correspond with Caroline's sudden depression and with the shadow phase of individuation. Demeter's entrance into Eleusis and her caretaking of Demophoon mark the incorporation of the animus; in Volume Two, Caroline, also, undergoes the animus confrontation; the reunion between mother and daughter in the "Hymn" and in Volume Three of the novel correspond with the union of the conscious and unconscious in individuation.
Voss, Kristin, "Individuation and the Demeter-Persephone Myth in Charlotte Bronte's Shirley" (2007). University of New Orleans Theses and Dissertations. 1056.