Charlotte Bronte, Margaret Smith
‘I am only just returned to a sense of the real world about me, for I have been reading Villette, a still more wonderful book than Jane Eyre.’
Lucy Snowe, in flight from an unhappy past, leaves England and finds work as a teacher in Madame Beck’s school in ‘Villette’. Strongly drawn to the fiery autocratic schoolmaster Monsieur Paul Emanuel, Lucy is compelled by Madame Beck’s jealous interference to assert her right to love and be loved.
Based in part on Charlotte Bronte’s experience in Brussels ten years earlier, Villette (1853) is a cogent and dramatic exploration of a woman’s response to the challenge of a constricting social environment. Its deployment of imagery comparable in power to that of Emily Bronte’s Wuthering Heights, and its use of comedy-ironic or exuberant-in the service of an ultimately sombre vision, make Villette especially appealing to the modern reader.
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“Bronte’s finest novel.”–Virginia Woolf
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