Villette by Charlotte Bronte (Chapters 23-27)

How time can change! Little Polly wore in her pale, small features her fairy symmetry, her varying expression, a certain promise of interest and grave; but Paulina Mary was become beautiful–not with the beauty that strikes the eye like a rose–orbed, ruddy, and replete; not with the plump, and pink, and flaxen attributes of her blond cousin Ginevra; but her seventeen years had brought her a refined and tender charm which did not lie in complexion, though hers was fair and clear; nor in outline, though her features were sweet, and her limbs perfectly turned; but, I think, rather in a subdued glow from the soul outward. This was not an opaque vase, of material however costly, but a lamp chastely lucent, guarding from extinction, yet not hiding from worship, a flame vital and vestal. In speaking of her attractions, I would not exaggerate language; but, indeed, they seemed to me very real and engaging. What though all was on a small scale, it was the perfume which gave this white violet distinction, and made it superior to the broadest camelia–the fullest dahlia that ever bloomed.

I knew it. I knew that six year old precocious Polly was nothing but trouble. Trouble to Lucy, anyway, for how can she compete with such exterior loveliness as a seventeen year old girl possesses? I’m afraid that Grahame and Polly will connect, and Lucy will be left alone once again.

Left alone with her nun, that creepy vision which insists on plaguing her (and me. Is it real? Who is that masked creature?)!

‘Who are you? and why do you come to me?’

She stood mute. She had no face–no features: all below her brow was masked with a white cloth; but she had eyes, and they viewed me.

I felt, if not brave, yet a little desperate; and desperation will often suffice to fill the post and do the work of courage. I advanced one step. I stretched out my hand, for I meant to touch her. She seemed to recede. I drew nearer: her recession, still silent, became swift. A mas of shrubs, full-leaved evergreens, laurel and dense yew, intervened between me and what I followed. Having passed that obstacle, I looked and saw nothing. I waited. I said, -“if you have any errand to me, come back and deliver it.” Nothing spoke or reappeared.

More thoughts can be found at Wallace’s blog. I finished Villette, and this post, before my project for Lent of reading only the Bible until Easter Sunday.

4 thoughts on “Villette by Charlotte Bronte (Chapters 23-27)”

  1. Thanks for making a writer,who has no appeal to me sound sound interesting, not enough to make me retry the Brontes ( As an Englishman I have special dispensation not to read them 🙂 )


  2. I know! What is the deal with the nun? Is she real or merely a figment of Lucy's bland imagination. I must admit that I had hopes for her and Grahame, but I suppose I knew it was never going to blossom into love – he always did view her as a friend. Poor Lucy, indeed!


  3. Parrish, I'm glad I made Charlotte sound interesting to you. 😉 We're all excited here because the film Jane Eyre is just newly rereleased this weekend. It looks wonderful! Certainly, it's got more action than sad Villette…Nadia, I've finished the book and still the nun baffles me. I know who it is, but my question is, "Why?" We'll have to talk when you finish. The more I think of it, the more I think Grahame and Polly deserve each other.Vintage Reading, the only problem with a read-along is that by now I've long finished the book, and I've forgotten all the little details too much to comment lucidly on anyone's post. I can only remember the big picture. Also, it gets stretched out rather long. As in when I was reading Bleak House, The Woman in White, and even The Brothers Karamazov, I didn't like taking weeks and weeks to get through the novel. It seems to lose its momentum then. But, Claire expressed an interest in Villette, and I surely would have loved to read both your thoughts on it.


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