Battle between the manufacturers and Luddites (frame-breakers). Includes comments on problems caused by war, poverty, and an unhelpful government.
Will the Napoleonic wars end in time for this community, and for the country, to prosper?
An examination of poverty. (With a well-written vignette of the classic image of a poor man crying because he cannot feed his family.) [ This thread would be of interest to Occupy Wall Street activists and theorists.]
A personal struggle with pride and ego, with references to Shakespeare's Coriolanus.
Love between rich and poor. The economics of courtship.
Can men and women be friends?
Transgender issues. While this book does not offer a character who is physically or completely transgender, there are interesting passages where Shirley explores her identification with men. Also, suggestions of how men accept "manliness" from most women vs. Shirley, who is bolder and richer.
Demonstrates how various people or groups respond to patriarchy. Examples include: rich and poor (1% and 99%); men and women; young and old; powerful and powerless.
Love and bonding between two women.
Adjustment and reactions to immigrants (A Yorkshire community in England opposite a family from Belgium with French customs.)
How does fashion relate to: cultural assimilation, social class, domestic duties? (Note: This text does not allude to gender fashion reform. Shirley does not wear pants.)
Running thread of commentary about French language versus English language, and the impossibility of translation with some words.
Observations on the value and treatment of servants, tutors, governesses, and the lower classes.
Why might a revolution get violent?
How and to what extent can violence/violent revolution be prevented through charity, public relations, empathy, etc.?