Overview

Shirley


Related Overviews

Luddite

Elizabeth Gaskell (1810—1865) novelist and short-story writer

Emily Brontë (1818—1848) novelist and poet

Anne Brontë (1820—1849) novelist and poet

 

More Like This

Show all results sharing this subject:

  • Literature

GO

Show Summary Details

Quick Reference

A novel by C. Brontë, published 1849.

The scene of the story is Yorkshire, and the period the latter part of the Napoleonic wars, the time of the Luddite riots. Robert Gérard Moore, half English, a mill‐owner of determined character, persists in introducing the latest labour‐saving machinery, undeterred by the opposition of the workers, which culminates in an attempt first to destroy his mill, and finally to take his life. To overcome his financial difficulties he proposes to Shirley Keeldar, an heiress of independent spirit; he himself loves not her but his gentle and retiring cousin Caroline Helstone, who is pining away for love of him and through enforced idleness in the oppressive atmosphere of her uncle's rectory. Robert is indignantly rejected by Shirley, who is in fact in love with his brother Louis, a tutor in her family. The misunderstandings are resolved, and the two couples united.

This is Charlotte Brontë's most social novel, and one of its recurrent themes is its plea for more useful occupations for women, condemned by society either to matrimony or, as old maids, to a life of self‐denial and acts of private charity. Charlotte told Mrs Gaskell that Shirley was intended to be what Emily Brontë might have been ‘had she been placed in health and prosperity’.

Subjects: Literature.


Reference entries
Authors

Charlotte Brontë (1816—1855) novelist


Users without a subscription are not able to see the full content. Please, subscribe or login to access all content.