Some readers have found it remarkable that they could read all the novels of Jane Austen and find no clue to the fact that the author had lived through three of the most momentous events in English history: the Industrial Revolution, the French Revolution, and the Napoleonic Wars. Austen deals only with private life.
While Charlotte Bronte was not alive during the era of the Luddite Riots of 1811-1812, her father was; and, he had fought on the side of the factory owners.
Charlotte's knowledge of the period was something less than encyclopedic. But, she reveals a fine sense of the confusion, hard feelings, and disruption of the time.
One of her central themes in Shirley is the need to place one's private needs and desires in proper perspective with the "outside" events and conditions.
Robert Gerard Moore becomes so obsessed with his fabric mill and the destructive activities...
(read more from the Study Guide)
The Shirley Study Pack contains about 285 pages of study material in 19 products, including:
Shirley Short Guide
Charlotte Bront Biographies (5)
572 words, approx. 2 pages
The English novelist Charlotte Brontë (1816-1855) portrayed the struggle of the individual to maintain his integrity with a dramatic intensity entirely new to English fiction.Charlotte Brontë...
17,152 words, approx. 58 pages
Charlotte Brontë's fame and influence rest on a very slender canon of published works: only four novels and some contributions to a volume of poetry. Her reputation may be explained in part by th...
12,057 words, approx. 41 pages
Charlotte Brontë's short fiction comprises the profuse writings that she produced--in collaboration with her brother, Branwell, and their sisters, Emily and Anne--during their sheltered childhood...
6,948 words, approx. 24 pages
Although Charlotte Brontë is one of the most famous Victorian women writers, only two of her poems are widely read today, and these are not her best or most interesting poems. Like her contempora...
17,666 words, approx. 59 pages
Biography EssayCharlotte Bronte's fame and influence rest on a very slender canon of published works: only four novels and some contributions to a volume of poetry. Her reputation may be explained in ...
Essays & Analysis (13)
3,378 words, approx. 12 pages
In the following excerpt, originally published in 1850 in the Edinburgh Review, Lewes criticizes the characters in Shirley as unnatural and unrealistic, despite the author's claim that they are...
6,196 words, approx. 21 pages
In this excerpt, originally published in 1975, Eagleton explores the possible reasons for the novel's focus on the Luddite disturbances of 1812 rather than the Chartist unrest of Brontë&...
9,673 words, approx. 33 pages
In the following excerpt, Gubar dismisses those critics who claim that Shirley lacks unity, and praises the novel as a revolutionary text.
Charlotte Brontë's second published novel, Shir...
14,708 words, approx. 50 pages
In the following excerpt, Moglen looks at the author's progression from Jane Eyre to Shirley as an attempt to turn from the personal to the political.
For reasons which I will shortly sketch, C...
4,965 words, approx. 17 pages
In this excerpt, Lashgari discusses images of food, starvation, and eating disorders in Shirley.
Does virtue lie in abnegation of self? I do not believe it. (10:190)
You expected bread, and you have ...
8,243 words, approx. 28 pages
In this address to the Brontë Society, Briggs explores Shirley's social theme—the Luddite uprisings—an element of the novel that is often overlooked.
I consider it a great ...
5,211 words, approx. 18 pages
In the following essay, Tompkins looks at possible sources for the character of Caroline from among the author's family members and friends.
Two-thirds of the way through Shirley Caroline Helst...
5,083 words, approx. 17 pages
In the essay below, Holgate describes the changes in the novel from its planning stage to its completion—changes brought about by the tragic events in the author's life in 1848-49.
2,196 words, approx. 8 pages
In the following essay, Knies examines Brontë's writing timetable in order to challenge other critics ' claims that Anne Brontë 's death brought about changes in the...
4,852 words, approx. 17 pages
In this essay, Shapiro challenges the conventional criticism that the public and private realms in the novel are unconnected.
From the outset, critics of Charlotte Brontë's third novel, ...
1,930 words, approx. 7 pages
In this excerpt, Passel describes the contrapuntal structure of Shirley, in which three voices explore possible solutions to life's problems through religion, work, and love respectively.
6,479 words, approx. 22 pages
In the following excerpt, Burkhart claims that, despite the novel's faults, its title character succeeds as a forerunner of today's liberated women.
Voices Public and Private
The habit a...
10,322 words, approx. 35 pages
In this introduction to Shirley, the Hooks explore the various social themes of the novel as well as the circumstances under which it was written and the intentions of its author.
With Jane Eyre Charl...