Victorians! discussion


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message 1: by Silver (new)

Silver I was quite disappointed when I first joined this group to discover I missed the discussion of this book by a month. I have been wanting to read Villette for a while now, so I started reading it for this month.

Thus far I am really enjoying it. It is a wonderful book I think, and filled with some beautiful and almost poetic prose. Next to Jane Eyre it is one of my favorite Bronte works that I have read thus far.

It is also interesting reading the book side by side to the Tenant of Wildfell Hall, though written by different sisters I was afraid at first of getting the stories confused in my head, but I find the similarities and differences between the stories quite an intriguing reading experience.

There is one thing I just have to ask though, it has been on my mind and I am curious to here what others might think.

Is it just me or has anyone else had the impression that Lucy is repressing some possibly homosexual inclinations?

To me it seems as if the book is riddled with suggestions of female sexuality and suggestions that Lucy may be confused about her sexual identity and feels a certain attraction to other women.

message 2: by Paula (new)

Paula | 1001 comments I didn't think of that before, but now that you mention it, Silver, I can see Lucy as possibly homosexual, but I think it's a fine line between that and the Victorian-era tendency to repress feelings and be discomforted around another gender. I think since Lucy was raised with little interaction with men, she naturally felt more familiar with women.

Were there certain passages that made you think this in particular?

message 3: by Silver (new)

Silver Some of the moments that particularly stuck me out in this way is in part, because we do find out the Lucy is unreliable narrator and we know that she does suppress not only her own feelings, but also she doesn't necessarily reveal all that she knows to the reader, as was evidences when she reveals her suspicions of Dr. John's true identity which she previously kept to herself and do not mention to the reader.

And the chapters "Cleopatra" and "Vashti" both seem to be focus upon women in a highly charged sexual way in which Lucy comes indirectly into contact with these very sensual, nude, temptress, scandalous women and though outwardly she seems to scorn them, we know what Lucy tells us cannot be fully trusted, and there seems to be a certain fascination which lurks behind the scorn.

Also there was the play in which Lucy was actually cast into a roll of a man courting Ginevra, and when she notices that Ginevra is acting to Dr. John, Lucy begins to actively via with Dr. John for Ginvera's affections.

And though there is no direct evidence of this, I could not help but be suspicious if the reason why Lucy is so critical and sever with Ginevera stems from Lucy's own jealously of Ginvera's flirtations with men.

There is also just something in the way in which Lucy talks about and describes women vs. the way in which she portrays men that just began to plant a seed within my mind and Lucy's sudden breakdown and growing nerves condition, the fact that her mind seems to become quite unbalanced and her emotions erratic could stem from repressed sexual desires which she is not prepared to confront.

The story is also riddled with questions of identity, identity confusion, mistaken identities or characters having multiple different identities, which could bring up also issues relating to sexual identity.

message 4: by Darcy (new)

Darcy | 215 comments One of my dissertation chapters is on Villette, Silver, and I just came across an article arguing this exact point. Basically, the author (Ann Weinstone) argues that Lucy challenges sexual norms in a number of ways, one of those being in her interactions with Ginevra. For this particular author, Lucy's relationship with Ginevra is simply one of a few ways in which Lucy engages in unconventional (for Victorian women) sexual relations with various other characters. She then goes on to suggest that this kind of unconventional relationship creates an unconventional reading experience.

There's quite a body of work on CB's interest in or awareness of homoeroticism. I will say, however, that most of it is interested in this topic not in terms of identifying which characters are/are not homo- or bisexual, but rather in terms of looking at how CB's novels challenge gender and sexual norms and especially how they challenge conventional narrative structures.

Anyway, all this is simply to say that there are quite a few people out there who agree with you about Lucy's sexuality.

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