These are thoughts half-formed, nascent, and wholly mutable as I delve further into Charlotte Brontë’s final novel, Villette, along with the rest of the readers in the Villette readalong.
Five chapters into Villette, and my question is: who is Lucy Snowe? She’s the main character and narrator of the novel. But I know little else of her. In fact, I feel better acquainted with six year-old Polly and the “rheumatic cripple” Miss Marchmont.
The concrete facts are slim. There’s no mention of her family, save her godmother Mrs. Bretton. “Troubles” sum up the eight years between her departure from Bretton and her employment to Miss Marchmont. It’s hinted she’s wearing a mourning dress and seems “a worn-out creature,” a physical display of these “troubles.” Lucy has “not yet counted twenty-three summers,” she is twenty-two (the same age as I am).
But, I’ll attempt to read between the lines. Lucy is calm, wise, and has so far seemed to act mature. Even her trip to London was well thought out, with a mission. (Although the Aurora Borealis was somewhat the catalyst for this decision.) Observant may be her most prominent characteristic so far, always watching, always listening, always thinking. And here, I identify with her. This observance tells me of Polly and Miss Marchmont in exacting detail. This observance also blocks me from learning more of Lucy Snowe herself.
Lucy seems to feel a strong connection to, and a strong belief in the power of, nature. During the storm on the last night of Miss Marchmont’s life, she anxiously recalls three previous times when “events had taught me that these strange accents in the storm–this restless, hopeless cry–denote a coming state of the atmosphere unpropitious to life.” She allows the Aurora Borealis lighting up the sky to spark a possible change in her life, a new location: London.
So, onward to London, until next week!