Publisher and Publication Date: Bantam Classic. 1986. Originally published 1853.
Genre: Fiction. Classic literature. Victorian literature.
Pages: 510-this includes the introduction.
Audience: Readers of classic literature, Victorian literature, and women and literature.
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Villette is the final novel Charlotte Bronte wrote.
In Villette, a young woman named Lucy Snowe left England and became an English teacher in a French boarding school. The school is located in the town of Villette, France. While in Villette Lucy fell in love with Dr. John Graham Bretton. In the story he is called, Dr. John. His feelings toward her are lukewarm. He doesn’t take the time to know her as a person. He doesn’t appreciate Lucy. Lucy is heartsick. Much of the story is Lucy’s thoughts and feelings. The story is rich in detail of her insecurities, fears, anguish, loneliness, and disappointment.
I’m going to be gender bias (forgive me): Villette is a female story. A story of this particular female’s thoughts and feelings. For me, and I’m female, it was too much. I had a difficult time sticking with the story until the end. It is not a bad story. It has its merit. It is not a very good story. It is definitely not an excellent story. It is mid-range.
My problem is I disliked being in Lucy’s head. I wanted out.
After the above paragraph, I will list a few things I like about the story.
1. Lucy is an illustration of women who dream or try to become what their love interest wants them to be. This is a lesson in the story: do not become someone else in order to win the affection of another. Yes, men can do this too.
2. Attraction to another person is just that, attraction. A successful relationship requires more than attraction. This is another lesson.
3. Coming of age story. Lucy is 23, but she is inexperienced in romantic relationships. She is learning to be independent.
4. Lucy seems on the edge of hysteria at times. She needs counseling. This is the Victorian era where counseling is unavailable. Lucy is a person I have empathy for her plight, and this is the reason why I continued to read Villette.
Themes in the story: courage, love, betrayal, loneliness, perseverance, grief, death, and passion.
Villette is a character driven story and Lucy is the heroine.
The conflicts are internal.
The story is heavy in dialogue and Lucy’s thoughts.