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2016 Group Reads - Archives > Villette - Chapters 1-8

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message 1: by Frances, Moderator (new)

Frances (francesab) | 1822 comments Mod
Our story begins.

What are your impressions of our Narrator, Lucy Snowe?

Lucy's life undergoes several shifts and transformations-in her relationships, in her occupation, in her location. What impact might these various changes have on Lucy herself and on the development of the novel?

Which secondary characters captured your interest particularly? Which would you hope will reappear later in the novel?

Feel free to discuss the above questions or to give your own thoughts on the opening chapters.


message 2: by Lori, Moderator (new)

Lori Goshert (lori_laleh) | 1323 comments Mod
Well, I've never been a Bronte fan. I tried to read this book a few years ago, but I didn't get through the first chapter. The description of the little girl was so sickeningly sweet, and I didn't want to endure more of it so I deleted it from my kindle. (I'm a mom, so it's not like I hate children or anything, but this was just too much) I decided to give the book another try. The first chapter was still annoying and I'm wondering what the point of it was in relation to the rest of the book (maybe we'll find out later). I also found Lucy Snowe a bit boring.

It got better. I enjoyed the story of her journeys to London and France. I've also traveled alone several times and have lived in other countries (alone and, now, with my family), but I had the advantages of phone and, later, internet to make contacts.

As a teacher, I really enjoyed the description of Miss Snowe's first class. I usually teach adults, but last summer I had a couple classes of teenagers, and i wouldn't have minded locking a few of them in a closet!


message 3: by Everyman (new)

Everyman | 3582 comments One thing confused me. I don't know why, but I thought that Bretton referred to Bretton in France. But in that case, why did Lucy know no French?

We aren't told where Bretton is, are we?


message 4: by Everyman (new)

Everyman | 3582 comments I'm of course familiar with the concept of a willing suspension of disbelief as a condition of enjoying novels, and Victorian novels especially, but to have Lucy decide for no adequate reason I can see to leave England for France, where she has no information at all about the country, no knowledge of the language, money, or customs, no introduction to anybody, and in short no rational basis for thinking this was a good idea, then to run across an English school girl going to a French school, then to just decide again for no adequate reason I can see to go to Villette, and then to get totally lost and just happen to wind up outside the school where this girl attends, and on top of that out of the blue late at night to be offered a job with no references, no teaching experience, and no knowledge of the language or ability to communicate in any reasonable way with her proposed employer but to have that employer not only hire on the spot but take into her home and school this total stranger who could represent a serious danger to her students -- all this doesn't require a willing suspension of disbelief, it requires a total abandonment not only of disbelief but of even the vestiges of credibility or reason.

I'm just surprised she didn't run into a fabulously wealthy aristocrat on the boat who instantly fell in love with her, took her to Paris, showered her with fabulous jewels, and married her on the spot. That, in my view, would be no less improbable than what we are required to believe.

I would expect this from an 16 year old teenager writing her juvenilia. But from a 37 year old woman?


message 5: by Everyman (new)

Everyman | 3582 comments Anybody want to challenge me when I say I bet we meet that guy again who helped her about her trunk at the bureau? A "young, distinguished, and handsome man; he might be a lord, for anything I knew: nature had made him good enough for a prince" who is apparently a native Englishman -- how can he not reappear?


message 6: by Everyman (new)

Everyman | 3582 comments I know that Madge has trouble reading these days, but she's so knowledgeable about the Brontes that I hope she remembers enough of Villette to have some wisdom about the book, and about the times it was written, to share with us.


message 7: by Jon (new)

Jon Abbott | 113 comments I'm new to the group, and new to Austen and the Brontes. Willing suspension of disbelief, however, is a concept I'm well familiar with as it occurs in every genre.

[In Villette I'm up to Lucy's first day of teaching 60 jeune filles.]

While I first though her brave and then more than a bit impetuous, I had absolutely no sense of suspension of disbelief. Perhaps that is based on a modern sensibility of gallivanting around France, particularly Paris, and the endless stream of men who did this. That she had a youngish woman do this was, I thought, part of the attraction [to some readers] and also why her other contemporaries were so alarmed by all of the Brontes' writings. Again, I'm a newbie.


message 8: by Hedi (new)

Hedi | 962 comments Everyman, this quite surprised me now, as I was reading these chapters under a totally different influence. I was just traveling back from a corporate meeting about diversity when reading the chapters about Lucy's abrupt decision to travel to London and France. Meeting people from all over the world and their issues, I was rather impressed by the strength and determination Lucy was showing. I myself have moved internationally several times, currently staying in Sweden, and have travelled many places all over the world, often alone. I do admit I was calling her crazy as well to travel first to London without really knowing anyone and then to continue to France w/o contacts, much money, any references, knowledge of the language or any other plan. However, she seemed so willing to try this adventure and to see how it would work out that I was impressed, maybe even envied her a little for being so incredibly careless. However, this does not mean that I disagree with you. It just shows how the mind can play games with our perception of exactly the same thing.

I also liked her determination when getting the opportunity to teach the class. Her qualifications might not have been the best on paper, but many young women became teachers and governesses without a lot of training in those days, so why not give it a try...

I was mostly irritated about the British snobbery that the English seemed better than the rest of the world, e.g. The French girls who are much naughtier than the English. This reminded me of the Podsnappery in Our Mutual Friend, which we are currently reading in the Dickens project.


message 9: by Jon (new)

Jon Abbott | 113 comments Heidi wrote: I was mostly irritated about the British snobbery that the English seemed better than the rest of the world.

Is it British snobbery that Bronte is putting in the mouth of the French Ms. Beck, or does it reflect a French sentiment at the time?


message 10: by Hedi (new)

Hedi | 962 comments Actually, here my perception was influenced by the notes in my Penguin Classics edition where this is pointed out at several occasions. That is probably why it struck and irritated me so much as I do not like this kind of prejudice and attitude.

My notes point this out at:
- the continental female vs. the insular female
- Lucy's attitude towards the Irish Mrs Sweeny
- Dolores, the Catalonian girl


message 11: by Cleo (new)

Cleo (cleopatra18) | 156 comments Everyman wrote: "One thing confused me. I don't know why, but I thought that Bretton referred to Bretton in France. But in that case, why did Lucy know no French?

We aren't told where Bretton is, are we?"


My British friend says that there are a few Brettons in England, but this is presumably West Yorkshire.


message 12: by Frances, Moderator (new)

Frances (francesab) | 1822 comments Mod
Everyman wrote: "and on top of that out of the blue late at night to be offered a job with no references, no teaching experience, and no knowledge of the language or ability to communicate in any reasonable way with her proposed employer but to have that employer not only hire on the spot but take into her home and school this total stranger who could represent a serious danger to her students -- all this doesn't require a willing suspension of disbelief, it requires a total abandonment not only of disbelief but of even the vestiges of credibility or reason. "

Well, Everyman, about 25 years ago while I was travelling solo in France a well-to-do French family hired me on the spot (because I could speak English and they wanted their children to learn english) with about the same qualifications as Lucy, no references or written confirmation of who I was, and left me in charge of their infant and 4 year old girl in a very posh apartment in Paris. So yes, people can be either that careless or consider themselves to be adequate judges of people. In case you are wondering, I was responsible, careful, kind to the children and didn't steal anything so perhaps their judgement was sound!


message 13: by Rosemarie, Moderator (new)

Rosemarie | 2804 comments Mod
Good for you, Frances, travelling solo and then having such a wonderful opportunity.


message 14: by Cleo (new)

Cleo (cleopatra18) | 156 comments Wow, Frances! I would have loved to have such an experience.

While I agree that Lucy's reaction to her situation is possible I do question whether, with the textual information that we've been given about her, it's probably. From the text we see that she has led a very sheltered life so far, and is very much the observer in almost every case. When she sees her old school friend, she doesn't even introduce herself. So I do have a problem with her suddenly deciding to go to London. Even Brönte seems to foresee this leap of belief being an issue for her readers, as she addresses it:

"In going to London, I ran less risk and evinced less enterprise than the reader may think. In fact, the distance was only fifty miles. My means would suffice both to take me there, to keep me a few days, and also to bring me back if I found no inducement to stay. I regarded it as a brief holiday, permitted for once to work-weary faculties, rather than as an adventure of life and death ......."

Should she have had to explain her reasons and feelings if the writer was doing her job with regard to character development? I think not, but I'm going to wait until I've read this whole section to decide. I'm just at the point where she arrives in London. However, I do understand Everyman's reservations and had a good laugh at his narrative. :-D


message 15: by Everyman (new)

Everyman | 3582 comments Hedi wrote: "I also liked her determination when getting the opportunity to teach the class. Her qualifications might not have been the best on paper, but many young women became teachers and governesses without a lot of training in those days, so why not give it a try... "

As a member of a teaching family (father, wife, two children, father-in-law, mother-in-law, sister, brother-in-law, sister-in-law, all teachers) I am sensitive to how skilled a profession good teaching is.


message 16: by Everyman (new)

Everyman | 3582 comments Frances wrote: " In case you are wondering, I was responsible, careful, kind to the children and didn't steal anything so perhaps their judgement was sound! .."

It sounds like a wonderful experience for you, and they lucked out, but I have to admit that I would never have turned my young children over to the care of somebody I had just met and had no information about, just going on first impressions.

Ted Bundy, after all, was a very personable and persuasive young man who inspired trust in his kindness. To the regret of many young women and their families. Not, of course, that you are in any way a Ted Bundy or anything approaching him, but just to recognize that trusting on first impressions can be a dangerous thing to do.


message 17: by Rosemarie, Moderator (new)

Rosemarie | 2804 comments Mod
After reading only two chapters I have the impression that Lucy Snowe is an appropriate name for her, since she seems so prim and proper. I don't know what to make of Polly. How is she going to cope with her father so far away?


message 18: by Frances, Moderator (new)

Frances (francesab) | 1822 comments Mod
Everyman wrote: "Frances wrote: " In case you are wondering, I was responsible, careful, kind to the children and didn't steal anything so perhaps their judgement was sound! .."

It sounds like a wonderful experien..."


I'm not at all advocating for this style of hiring caregivers, and was shocked that I did get hired. I'm just pointing out that it isn't unrealistic to think that someone might hire a teacher in the same fashion. And lets face it, Victorian schools (at least according to the Bronte's or to Dickens) appear to have hired some of the most sadistic and ill-prepared teachers imaginable! In any case to have a native English speaker to teach English was probably something of a coup for a small school in Belgium so perhaps Mme Beck was willing to take a chance on her.


message 19: by Everyman (new)

Everyman | 3582 comments Frances wrote: "And lets face it, Victorian schools (at least according to the Bronte's or to Dickens) appear to have hired some of the most sadistic and ill-prepared teachers imaginable!"

And according to Orwell, things hadn't improved much by the mid 1900s.

http://www.orwell.ru/library/essays/j...


message 20: by Casceil (new)

Casceil | 220 comments Living in the 21st century we tend to be suspicious that any stranger just might be an axe-murderer or a lunatic. At the time this book was written, people probably were not so paranoid--at least not when confronted with a stranger who was clearly educated and appeared to be from an acceptable class.


message 21: by Tracey (new)

Tracey (traceyrb) Being a Brit I also was surprised at the idea that we British women are somehow the best relative to the job; (yay for us) but I think this was Charlotte's own perception and Victorian perception of Britannia ruling the world. British snobbery of the time and maybe you will still find. I suppose nothing wrong with admiring your own country/culture as long as it's not putting down another.
As far as Lucy Snowe travelling alone and making decisions; I too have done similar things although of course with modern day travel it's not so hard to get back. In Lucy's case I think it was needs must. For myself, sometimes that and sometimes just adventurous spirit. I think Lucy seems to get braver over time which would fit with my own experience. One is only as brave as the boundaries we set ourselves. Lucy has moved outside her comfort zone and then when challenged, by Madame Beck, she steps up to the plate. Overall I like Lucy.
Polly was a little too much I agree but again as some children are raised that way then really it is not so much their fault as the fault of those who had the care of them.
I am with Everyman in thinking that the mysterious kind gentleman will yet reappear and have a major part in the plot.
So far I am enjoying the story and hope Lucy continues to expand her horizons and develop more confidence and happiness.


message 22: by Madge UK (new)

Madge UK (madgeuk) | 2934 comments In going to Brussels to teach, Lucy was doing what Charlotte & Emily Bronte and several of their friends had done. Brits, even women, crossed the Channel regularly to seek work or pleasure on the continent. The impoverished Bronte sisters had conceived the idea of getting some education in Brussels so as to learn how to run a school themselves. Here is a book about their experiences, containing illustrations and maps:

http://www.peterowenpublishers.com/bo...

Here are some details and pics of 19C Brussels:

http://www.thebrusselsbrontegroup.org...

Villette is the most autobiographical of Charlotte's books and the most gothic. George Eliot wrote “It is a still more wonderful book than Jane Eyre. There is something almost preternatural in its power.” Its subliminal eroticism shocked the Victorians and it has been described as 'a visionary and fantastic depiction of a sequence of extreme emotional states', states which it is thought the 26 year old Charlotte herself suffered during her two year stay. 'I do not like the love, either the kind or the degree of it' wrote Bronte's contemporary Harriet Martineau who found the novel 'unladylike and unchristian'. Lucy's cold name, Snowe, belies a fiery temperament.

We are used to sexy novels today and perhaps cannot appreciate how erotic and steamy Victorians found this novel. For us everything is up front but in Villette we have to search for the sub text.


message 23: by Jon (new)

Jon Abbott | 113 comments Everyman writes: I am sensitive to how skilled a profession good teaching is.

The problem with the use of the word "skilled" is that training or credentials do not alone make one proficient at the art of teaching. We all have the experience with teachers long on credentials and years who fail to motivate or teach.

Lucy has abilities that are also requisite, and which may be more important: heart, empathy, motivation and intuitiveness. How many teaching courses would she have needed to make her first two acts, in a new classroom in mid-semester, ripping up an essay and lodging a student in a closet?


message 24: by Jon (new)

Jon Abbott | 113 comments Frances, our moderator, posed a question to start:
Which secondary characters captured your interest particularly? Which would you hope will reappear later in the novel?

I would like to know how Polly fares. She has qualities well beyond her years; how does she use them?


message 25: by Rosemarie, Moderator (new)

Rosemarie | 2804 comments Mod
I have now read the first four chapters of Villette and a lot has happened in
Lucy's life. The story began with Mrs. Bretton, then several years passed in Lucy's home and th death of some family members. Now Mrs. Marchmont has died without the oportunity of doing something for Lucy.
So far, I have not seen much of Lucy's personality. Everything she says seems like a platitude. However, I did like her description of wind like a banshee. I'm sure Charlotte experienced those winds many times at Haworth.


message 26: by Jon (new)

Jon Abbott | 113 comments Thanks, MadgeUK, for the citations for the pictures of 19C Brussels. I'm a visual person for some types of learning, so they help stimulate my imagination. I was surprised by the long street of buildings, all flat, with no alleys or breaks, similar to some places in Mexico south of MC.


message 27: by Everyman (new)

Everyman | 3582 comments Casceil wrote: "Living in the 21st century we tend to be suspicious that any stranger just might be an axe-murderer or a lunatic. At the time this book was written, people probably were not so paranoid--at least not when confronted with a stranger who was clearly educated and appeared to be from an acceptable class. "

That's a fair point, but perhaps counterbalancing it are several other aspects. In Bronte's day most foreign travelers were wealthy people traveling from posh hotel to posh hotel, with piles of luggage and often a servant in tow. This was long before the era of the youth hosteler. Or they would be students or people hired to jobs already, as Charlotte was herself. A single person, especially a single woman, not of wealth, traveling alone with no luggage and no letters of introduction would, I would think, be unusual, if not unique, and so an object of natural suspicion.

Also, this was I think still a period when people basically didn't speak to others without an introduction.

And it was a time when most people still lived all their lives in a small compass where they were well known, or there were people there who knew them and could vouch for them.

You may be right that there was less trepidation about strangers (though there was still plenty of crime), but I still find the instant acceptance and hiring of Lucy under the circumstances to be quite strange.


message 28: by Everyman (new)

Everyman | 3582 comments MadgeUK wrote: "In going to Brussels to teach, Lucy was doing what Charlotte & Emily Bronte and several of their friends had done. Brits, even women, crossed the Channel regularly to seek work or pleasure on the c..."

This is true, but my recollection is that Charlotte and Emily had plans in place before they left England; they didn't just go and see what they could find, which is quite different from what Lucy undertakes.


message 29: by Everyman (new)

Everyman | 3582 comments Jon wrote: "Everyman writes: I am sensitive to how skilled a profession good teaching is.

The problem with the use of the word "skilled" is that training or credentials do not alone make one proficient at th..."


I certainly agree. Which is why I said skilled and not educated or degreed. Both those are valuable, but don't, as you say, equate to skill. But the idea that Lucy would without any training or experience just jump into a classroom of 60 students and succeed overnight is a stretch for me. (And her tactics certainly couldn't be duplicated today; can you imagine the outroar if a modern teacher locked an unruly student in a closet?!)


message 30: by Everyman (new)

Everyman | 3582 comments MadgeUK wrote: "We are used to sexy novels today and perhaps cannot appreciate how erotic and steamy Victorians found this novel. For us everything is up front but in Villette we have to search for the sub text. ."

Have we gotten to that subtext yet? I haven't noticed it; am I missing it, or are the erotic and steamy bits still to come?


message 31: by Rosemarie, Moderator (new)

Rosemarie | 2804 comments Mod
As a retired substitute teacher with occasional long term positions, usually,teaching French, I know how difficult it is to come into a classroom you don't know, at times with no proper plans, and have to maintain discipline and try to teach as well. It takes certain qualities to succeed.
I taught in middle school and there were times I really wanted to lock a student in the closet.
As for the steamy bits, I've read the book before and if there were any, I missed them.


message 32: by Frances, Moderator (new)

Frances (francesab) | 1822 comments Mod
I've also read it before, and I think the steamy bits probably involve longing looks and trembly feelings at someone's touch and feeling overheated in someone's presence.


message 33: by Tracey (new)

Tracey (traceyrb) Thank you MadgeUK for the extra information. I looked at the sites and particularly enjoyed the page on Emily and how she dealt with her time in Brussels. Two very different sisters and two different experiences.


message 34: by Tracey (new)

Tracey (traceyrb) steamy passages? I did note that the stewardess on the ship Vivid was described as " buxom and blooming...loud and vulgar... her mind and body alike seemed brazen and imperishable,"
Also the female passengers who were couples equally described as being with "plain, fat and vulgar men" but despite this they seemed "gay even to giddiness" Maybe not a marriage alliance but something else?
Any how, I will be looking out for steamy passages and undercurrents now.


message 35: by Madge UK (last edited Mar 02, 2016 10:56PM) (new)

Madge UK (madgeuk) | 2934 comments Re eroticism: I am not reading Villette, just commenting based on past readings. Look out for descriptions of food, especially meat. Over consumption of meat was thought to show excessive sexuality as did favouring sweets/desserts rather than plain food.

Gluttony and excessive meat consumption are strongly condemned in Bronte's novels. Disgust with meat was a common phenomenon among Victorian young women; a carnivorous diet was associated with sexual precocity, especially with heavy periods, and even with nymphomania. Voluptuous women were perceived as capable of devouring men as well as food and were often depicted as unfeminine, even vampiric. Hunger denotes sexuality, a dainty appetite purity. Corpulent men and women were perceived as morally corrupt, lascivious. Bodily appetite should be controlled since over-consumption denotes excessive sexuality which endangers the soul’s salvation.

Bronte also uses styles of dress to indicate sexual purity or wantonness, plain dress indicating the former, colour (especially red) and exotic fabrics the latter. Changing dress from one style to another, as in theatricals, indicates a possible lapse in morality, temptation. Excessive thinking about what to wear, or about what others wear, involves contemplating the physical body and neglecting the soul.

And so on.


(When I saw a dress of Charlotte's at Haworth I wondered if she was anorexic because it looked like a dress which would only fit a skinny 11 year old rather than a grown woman.)

http://www.bbc.co.uk/bradford/content...


message 36: by Emma (new)

Emma (emmalaybourn) | 298 comments If Lucy is fiery, there's not much evidence of it in these first chapters. Initially she's very self-effacing as a narrator - we don't even learn her name until chapter two, and she reveals practically nothing about her family background except that it involves "trouble and tempest": I think we have to assume that she is left without family and effectively destitute. (Since Charlotte Bronte had by this time lost all her five siblings as well as her mother, this would be a situation she could easily have found herself in had her father died too.)

I think this tempestuous background is the reason Lucy says "she liked peace so well and sought stimulus so little." She's repressing all feeling to the point of chilliness: when's Polly's crying she doesn't attempt to comfort her, and when the little girl runs out of the house she doesn't do anything but watch calmly from the window. She observes Polly and her feelings with acuteness but shows very little feeling of her own, as if she's as frozen as her name.

The story of Miss Marchmont and her dead lover is an odd one - a episode of melodrama and unrequited passion that is maybe meant to reflect something in Lucy's own life. Miss Marchmont is given a lot of attention for a character who promptly dies.


message 37: by Rosemarie, Moderator (new)

Rosemarie | 2804 comments Mod
I agree with your comments, Emma.
Madge, thank you for the info. When you mention gluttony, the scene from
Tom Jones movie with Albert Finney comes to mind--the meal at the inn on the way to London.


message 38: by Madge UK (last edited Mar 03, 2016 06:09AM) (new)

Madge UK (madgeuk) | 2934 comments I don't remember that Rosemarie but Tom Jones, an 18thC novel, is full of the sexual innuendo Victorians wouldn't/couldn't use. Gluttony is, of course, one of the seven deadly sins.


message 39: by Jon (new)

Jon Abbott | 113 comments Everyman writes: can you imagine the outroar if a modern teacher locked an unruly student in a closet?!)

Unfortunately, yes I can. I greatly benefited as a middle school and HS student from car trips with a couple of teachers. When I mentioned this to a current teacher in the school, he told me there is an absolute prohibition on taking students in teachers' cars. I understand but lament the change.

Fiery would not be a word I use to describe Lucy as she is through about 40% of the novel I've read. Plain spoken, at least to the young English pupil she first met on the boat, yes. And how to reconcile her reaction, or lack thereof, to Ms. Beck's perusal of her person things, is beyond me so far. Why is she so unconcerned?


message 40: by Rosemarie, Moderator (new)

Rosemarie | 2804 comments Mod
I have reached the point where Lucy has just arrived in London. My heart goes out to her. It takes real courage to face the fact that you are on your own in a bog city. When she burst into tears she showed the feelings she usually kept bottled up.


message 41: by Rosemarie, Moderator (new)

Rosemarie | 2804 comments Mod
At the beginning of Villette, we are introduced to Polly, a strange little child. Will ww ever meet her again?
I do notice a change in Lucy during the course of the 8 chapters. In my opinion, I am most impressed by her courage in setting forth to the continent and successfully gaining employment. Faced with the decision of whether to teach or not, she says:
but it seemed to me a great thing to be without heavy anxiety, and relieved from intimate trial; the negation of severe suffering was the nearest approach to happiness I expected to know.
That, sadly, was the lot of many a young woman of limited means at that time.


message 42: by Cleo (new)

Cleo (cleopatra18) | 156 comments I've been surprised (but probably shouldn't be) over the number of times people are judged by their appearance, particularly their clothes. Lucy judges the men on the boat based on their appearance, she expects to be judged herself by her appearance/clothes, and poor Mrs. Sweeny, again we find that she is only kept in employment because of a cashmir Indian shawl. Now, I expected this behaviour to some degree but it seems excessive.

In spite of Mrs. Sweeny's probably questionable character, she's chucked out without notice and without references. I couldn't help but feel a little sorry for her as I assume her prospects would be very bleak. I do hope there is some sort of positive emotional connection between characters soon. So far, it feels rather cold. Or am I asking too much? ;-)


message 43: by Everyman (new)

Everyman | 3582 comments Emma wrote: "Miss Marchmont is given a lot of attention for a character who promptly dies. "

Good point. I wonder whether we are expected to see her training coming out in Lucy, or for what other reason the story starts where it does.


message 44: by Everyman (new)

Everyman | 3582 comments Rosemarie wrote: "At the beginning of Villette, we are introduced to Polly, a strange little child. Will ww ever meet her again?"

I wondered that too. As Emma noted, Miss Marchmont appears and then quickly dies. If Polly also appears briefly then leaves the stage permanently, one has to wonder what Bronte is doing.


message 45: by Everyman (new)

Everyman | 3582 comments Cleo wrote: "I've been surprised (but probably shouldn't be) over the number of times people are judged by their appearance, particularly their clothes. Lucy judges the men on the boat based on their appearance..."

That's a nice point.

Also, about Mrs. Sweeney being chucked out without notice or a reference.

You ask "I do hope there is some sort of positive emotional connection between characters soon. So far, it feels rather cold. Or am I asking too much?"

This emotional coldness seems to me to be a more general aspect of the Bronte novels generally. They tend to have either very strong emotion relationships (passion or hatred) or none. There don't seem to be many normal human relationships in their work.


message 46: by Tracey (new)

Tracey (traceyrb) I wonder if this 'coldness' was part of their upbringing. As I understand, Patrick Bronte, their father, was very austere and cold towards the children and allowed them little in terms of emotional comfort. They relied on to each other for that and this is where you get the other side of the Bronte siblings; the imaginative, passionate and almost desperate longings.


message 47: by Cleo (last edited Mar 03, 2016 10:18PM) (new)

Cleo (cleopatra18) | 156 comments Everyman wrote: "This emotional coldness seems to me to be a more general aspect of the Bronte novels generally. They tend to have either very strong emotion relationships (passion or hatred) or none. There don't seem to be many normal human relationships in their work.
..."


It's curious that the Bröntes could portray extremes, yet had difficulty with producing reality. I've read Wuthering Heights, The Tenant of Wildfell Hall, Agnes Grey and Jane Eyre and now that you mention it, I can see either the volatility or lifelessness of the characters. The effect we get from them is realized in how they interact with each other, rather than an appreciation of their individual complexities. I did however think that Jane Eyre was a multi-faceted character with hidden depths to her personality.

I've read that (view spoiler)


message 48: by Madge UK (last edited Mar 03, 2016 11:28PM) (new)

Madge UK (madgeuk) | 2934 comments Bronte's other surname for Lucy was Frost. She meant her to be a stiff upper lipped English Protestant girl adrift in a sea of Latin catholics, as she herself had been. Bronte characters have hidden depths because people born and bred on the wild, uncompromising moors do not wear their hearts on their sleeves, they are stoic, the more so in the 19C. Even today Brits talk of 'tough northerners' and 'soft southerners'. I am a typical Yorkshirewoman, uncomfortable with displays of emotion, declarations of love and other 'cissiness' but passionate when aroused. I think we have yet to see Lucy being aroused.


message 49: by Madge UK (new)

Madge UK (madgeuk) | 2934 comments This may interest Christians (or archeologists) here:

Archaeologists to launch crowdfunded search for Lindisfarne monastery

http://gu.com/p/4h9cd?CMP=Share_Andro...


message 50: by Emma (new)

Emma (emmalaybourn) | 298 comments I think Madge's comment about "tough northerners" is a good one: there's a Yorkshire saying, "hear all, see all, say nowt" which Lucy certainly lives up to at times. And London is as strange to her as it might be to any foreigner.


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