In this essay, I will argue that looking at translation and multilingualism both as a mode of storytelling and as a theme of Brontë's second published novel Shirley can help to uncover previously untapped moments of connection and understanding in the novel. Brontë's exploration of translation and use of multilingualism reveals a sincere urge to connect in spite of tremendous difficulties—connect her characters to each other, connect her narrator to her readers. It is an ambitious, over-reaching goal, which Brontë did not ultimately attain. Yet, for Brontë, her (especially female) characters, and her narrator, translation in all its forms represents their earnest, if ultimately unfulfilled, desire to communicate—to be correctly comprehended and "well-rendered" as texts, whether they are translated by other characters within the novel or by an unseen reader without.
College and Department
BYU ScholarsArchive Citation
Erdmann, Amanda Bishop, "A Poem, a Fervid Lyric, in an Unknown Tongue: Translation, Multilingualism, and Communication in Charlotte Brontë's Shirley" (2009). Theses and Dissertations. 1739.
Charlotte Brontë, Shirley, communication, translation, multilingualism