Friday, 26 September 2014

Villette and Jane Eyre, or Lucy and Jane

I've finished reading Villette
It is a very different book from Jane Eyre. Yes there's passion, there's intensity, there's a woman alone who earns her own living, but, for 1 thing, Jane Eyre and Lucy Snowe are different- though both are introverted in nature and at the same time forced by circumstances to be alone, both have to earn money for themselves so as not to burden anyone else, Lucy's more withdrawn, more solitary, alienated from her surrounding and suffering from loneliness for great portions of the book. That makes the whole tone of Villette different, the mood, the atmosphere different. Jane undergoes hardships and injustice and suffering, but as a child she's close to Helen Burns, later when she works as a governess she's close enough to Adele and finds in Rochester a soulmate. She and Rochester have experience and know much about life from suffering, so they understand each other- in fact, their 1st meetings already show a sense of understanding only between themselves, as Mrs Fairfax cannot join their conversation, nor know what they're talking about. Generally quiet, but Jane can be frank and open, many times she speaks out her mind and on a few occasions has an outburst. 
Lucy most of the time keeps things to herself. Indeed, she does give Ginevra a lecture now and then, indeed, she does talk about Protestantism and Catholicism, indeed, she once talks to a priest of her loneliness, but most of the time she maintains self-control, keeps everything to herself and endures everything alone. She never opens up her soul to anyone. She never has an outburst. She rarely speaks frankly and openly about her private life and feelings. Lucy even keeps a distance from readers- I've never seen any narrator so secretive, she keeps withholding information. 
As I picture the characters in my mind, Lucy and Jane are alike in that their faces are not lively, cheerful, sociable faces, but one can see some fire, some intensity in Jane's eyes, yet nothing, nothing at all in Lucy's. They're just tranquil. 
I don't think Lucy truly has an attachment to anyone in Villette. Ginevra doesn't know anything about her. Madame Beck sees her as an employee and is seen as a employer. Graham and Polly respect her, care for her and confide in her, but there's always a wall Lucy builds between them and herself, she listens but seldom talks, and they are ignorant of her feeling and suffering. Later she becomes closer to and seems to fall in love with Paul Emanuel, but I'm not so sure of that. There's always been more love on his side than on her side, from the beginning, by the time he truly approaches her and opens up to her, she's been despairing, feeling pain for her unrequited love, coping with lonesomeness and questioning the chance of happiness- who knows if she loves him because of his personality and character, or does so as a lonely person that wants attachment. 
Who knows. 

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