My impression of Villette

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My impression of Villette

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1naimahaviland
Ago 28, 2013, 7:52pm

I finished listening to an audio version of Charlotte Bronte's Villette a few weeks ago. I found the heroine, Lucy Snowe, unsympathetic. She struck me as having a hysterical temperament and her story depressed me. However, Vilette stirred me to read ABOUT Villette. Studying the novel gave me more respect for it. Now I think it has integrity for showing the realism of the Victorian era's limited options for women. Upon reflection, I like Lucy Snowe for her ability to interact harmoniously with people who would irritate me unbearably ...the pompous, the flighty, the in-love-with-someone-else ... And I like how Lucy gently, over time, came to love a man (if I state which one, it might be a spoiler). I didn't even see him as a main character for the longest time. I think Charlotte Bronte's writing showed skill in the way she walks you through a growing acquaintance until you realize you've come to thoroughly know him. I still think the book's a downer -- give me Jane Eyre any day! If both novels were written today, Jane Eyre would be classified in the Romance genre and Villette would be classified in the Literature genre (I'm talking about marketing, really -- today's genre-specific product placement).

What were your impressions of Vilette?

2anthonywillard
Sep 7, 2013, 8:34am

Villette has the saddest ending of any book I have ever read in my life, and I always advise people to avoid the novel. Other than that, I like your description of Lucy's character, it is difficult to have patience with her, but her experiences and the people she encounters are interesting and well-narrated, and the setting in Belgium is attractively described. My favorite Charlotte Bronte is Shirley, though I like Jane Eyre too. My favorite Bronte novel is Anne's Agnes Grey.

3ElizabethPotter
Sep 28, 2013, 11:26pm

Villette is difficult on the first read, or it was for me. Like the male character in the first post, you come to appreciate this story more slowly. The second time I read it, the book felt like a different novel. This leads me to wonder what I will feel about it when I pick it up for the third time. Each of the Bronte's novels is so different. A reader hopes to find another Jane Eyre, but it just doesn't happen: there is only one. That was my disappointment on first reading Villette because I had heard that it was better than Jane. I do think Villette does lend itself to the academic. Part of this might be the unreliable narrator. Part of it might be the cerebral nature of the romance. Even as I type this, I'm not sure that 'cerebral' is the right word.

4kaystj
Editado: Oct 2, 2013, 5:42pm

> 2
THERE WILL BE SPOILERS BELOW
I love Villette, although I don't like the ending myself. But technically you can prefer to imagine that the ship made it home safely (I don't think there is specifically said otherwise anywhere, is it? It's merely hinted at that the ship may have sunk, or am I forgetting anything?), which is what I choose to do each and every time I read the book, although I am aware that the author probably intended the opposite.

5madpoet
Oct 2, 2013, 7:25pm

I read Villette right after I read The Professor. To me, it seemed like Charlotte simply rewrote The Professor, this time with a female protagonist and a tragic ending. It's a much better novel, though, showing her maturity as a writer.