Thursday, February 24, 2011

Villette Readalong - Week 3?

Okay, well, technically it's week 2 for me but as it's week 3 for everyone else, we'll go with that.

When last we left Lucy Snowe, she was on a ship headed for France, with only the vaguest idea what she would do when she got there.  On the ship, she met a young girl, Ginerva Fanshawe, who confided that she was on her way to school in Villette.  So off to Villette Lucy headed.  Despite the fact that she speaks no French, Lucy managed to get all of the way to Villette and completely by mistakes finds herself at the door of the very school Miss Fanshawe spoke of.

Madame Beck, the proprietress of the school, hires Lucy as a nanny to her two young children, primarily it appears, because she is English.  Also because Madame Beck is kind of crazy about letting employees go.  Which soon results in Lucy finding herself as a teacher.

And now things are really picking up...and love is in the air.  Ginerva confides that she has a young man whom she calls "Isidore" who is buying her expensive baubles and before long we discover that this is none other than the doctor that has become a frequent visitor at the school.  He also happens to be the son of Lucy's godmother who she hasn't seen in many years, but he doesn't recall her. Lucy's godmother, Mrs. Bretton, is also staying in Villette.  Lucy discovers this when she collapses after a long walk in the rain while she is suffering from exhaustion and depression after being left alone in the school for many weeks. 

So it turns out that Lucy, who has known all along that Dr. John was Graham Bretton, is not a reliable narrator, that she will hide things from us. At the time Villette was written, this was an unusual twist marking Bronte as a writer who was willing to take a chance.  In these chapters, Bronte once again points out the degree to which Lucy's station in life has changed and the effect this has had on her.

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