Culture Clash

4 April 2015
An analysis of the role of French and English nationalism in the novels “Shirley” and “Villette” by Charlotte Bronte.

This paper discusses the novels Shirley and Villette, which explore the relationship between the French and English through characters’ interactions with each other. By contrasting the languages and cultures associated with the two nations, Charlotte Bronte is able to show the influence of each on those who claim to be English or French. In each story two main characters enter a romantic relationship which is troubled due to their conflicting nationalities. They must learn to accept the idiosyncrasies of the other nation in order to reach an understanding which forms the basis of this relationship.
Having allowed the reader a glimpse of her personal view of the benefits of each nationality, Bronte is free to explore the interplay between the two within her fictional characters. It is possible to write a novel which utilizes the advantages of both French and English, and the author explores the issue of whether the characters of the novel can achieve the same synergy within themselves. The relationship which most feels the polarization of the two nationalities is that between Caroline Helstone and Robert Moore.

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