`Something real, cool, and solid, lies before you; something unromantic as Monday morning`.
Following the dramatic romance of `Jane Eyre`, Charlotte Bronte intended `Shirley` to be a `salutary` change. Set in Yorkshire during the period of the Napoleonic Wars, the novel articulates the social realities of economic hardship, the Luddite riots, dissatisfaction with the government and an inadequate Church.
In the foreground of these concerns, a mill-owner, Robert Moore, in pursuit of financial security, ignores the suffering of his workers to such an extent that an attempt is made on his life. At the same time he affects the lives of two women - the shy Caroline Helstone, who lives in the oppressive atmosphere other uncle`s rectory, and who loveshim, and the wealthy, vivacious Shirley, who contemptuously rejects his self-seeking offer of marriage. In her portrayal of the personalities of these two young women, Charlotte Bronte displays the sensitive perception of one of the greatest writers in English literature.