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A novel by Charlotte Brontë. It lives in the shadow of Jane Eyre, but is arguably superior to it. Villette follows Lucy Snowe, an orphan from England who searches for greener pastures in the fictional town of Villette. She takes care of the headmistress' children at a school for girls until she is thrust into the role of an English teacher. Lucy struggles to find companionship and a place where she belongs, often having depressive episodes and supernatural encounters. She also deals with the strange new culture she lives in, overcoming the language barrier and feelings of being an outsider, and sorts out her affections for two very different men.
The novel is notable for portraying Lucy's depression very accurately, as well as for its mysterious and clever usage of the Unreliable Narrator.
This was Charlotte Brontë's final and most autobiographical novel, partly inspired by her own experiences in Brussels and her unrequited passion for Constantin Heger. Villette was written after all of Charlotte's siblings had died, and her outlook on life is decidedly bleaker than it was in Jane Eyre.
Contains examples of
- Angst: Chock full of it.
- Belligerent Sexual Tension: M. Paul and Lucy have trouble being nice to each other for a while.
- Betty and Veronica: Dr. John and M. Paul could be either one depending on how you look at it. Dr. John is really good friends with Lucy, but he's also way out of her league. M. Paul is more unapproachable, but less out of her league.
- Bolivian Army Ending
- Broken Bird: Lucy.
- Converting for Love: Subverted.
- Dark and Troubled Past: Lucy's undisclosed family tragedy.
- Diabolus Ex Machina
- Her Heart Will Go On
- If I Can't Have You: Mme. Beck sabotages Lucy and M. Paul's relationship because of this.
- I Just Want to Have Friends: Lucy Snowe puts up with a lot of crap from Dr. John for this reason.
- I Want My Beloved to Be Happy: When Dr. John showed romantic interest in Ginevra, Lucy objected because Ginevra was basically leading him on because he gave her gifts. When Dr. John showed romantic interest in Polly Home, Lucy approves because Polly is a decent lady.
- Karma Houdini: Invoked at the end when Lucy says that Mme. Beck, Pére Silas and Mme. Walravens all had long and happy lives.
- Licked by the Dog / Pet the Dog: M. Paul is the school dog's favorite.
- Like Brother and Sister: Invoked by M. Paul, but even he probably knew that he and Lucy were more than that.
- Love Dodecahedron
- Lovable Alpha Bitch: Ginevra Fanshawe, a superficial Gold Digger who values Lucy's friendship, even when Lucy pushes her away.
- May-December Romance
- Moment Killer: Way to go, Mme. Beck...
- Mushroom Samba: In the third volume, Madame Beck gives Lucy an unspecified drug that, instead of putting her to sleep, intensifies her emotions and sensations.
- No Celebrities Were Harmed: Vashti is the legendary French actress Rachel.
- Precocious Crush: Polly on Graham at the beginning.
- Star-Crossed Lovers: Lucy and M. Paul.
- Ugly Guy, Hot Wife: Lucy encounters such a pair while traveling and is stunned to realize that the pretty young woman is quite happy and content, as the man is not only ugly in looks, but in personality.
- Unreliable Narrator: Lucy knows that Dr. John is Graham Bretton (and so does the audience), but she conveniently forgets to tell the reader until later in the book.
- Victorious Childhood Friend / Unlucky Childhood Friend: Polly and Lucy respectively.