Charlotte Bronte wrote her novel Shirley in 1849, during difficult days for her. Just now, within one year, the friends of her youth - a brother and two sisters - died of tuberculosis. Charlotte, by her very nature, could not indulge in sterile despair. She started working on Shirley. But bitter thoughts about women's destiny permeate this novel, and the dark shadows of recent grief lie on him. One of the chapters has a characteristic name - "The Valley of the Shadow of Death".
And yet this is not a pessimistic book. Charlotte put her faith in the victory of good, and her desire for justice. And at the same time she tried to erect a monument to her dead sisters, to create their living portraits in the person of two heroines of the novel. In the proud and energetic Shirley we guess the features of Emily; a meek, dreamy Caroline the writer has given to the moral and physical appearance of Anne. And she generously endowed them in conclusion with the happiness that they were deprived of in life - love, family, health.
Charlotte turned in her novel to the beginning of the century, to the insurrection of the Luddites - the destroyers of machines. She knew a lot about this spontaneous labor movement, which flared up between 1811 and 1816. The northern regions of England (including the Yorkshire county, the birthplace of Charlotte) became its hearths. Technical inventions, the introduction of machines allowed the factory owners to fire many weavers and intensify operation, intimidating the rest with new layoffs. Unemployed, driven to despair, brought their anger to the cars. They called themselves Luddites, in honor of the legendary Ludd who allegedly broke the first, as early as the 18th century, knitting machine.
The novel Shirley differs in boldness of the problems, in which, on the broad background of social and historical events of the early 19th century (the war with Napoleon, the continental blockade of England, the Luddites' actions) depicts the war of the workers and the manufacturer. The events take place in 1812; however, they are described taking into account the Chartist movement. Bronte writes about "hatred, born of poverty." She regards the indignation and protest of the workers as a natural consequence of the unbearably difficult conditions of their life. Not being a supporter of revolutionary methods of struggle, Charlotte believes that it is possible to improve the position of the people by the "reasonable" activity of the bourgeoisie and in the final of the novel offers a clearly utopian program for the transformation of society. Shirley - an ardent description of the conflict of generations, sexes, and social strata.