Brontë’s Villette: Desire and Lanternicity in the Domestic Gothic

  • David J. Jones
Part of the The Palgrave Gothic Series book series (PAGO)


Villette (1853) is one of the most enigmatic and finely crafted novels of the early Victorian era, replete with libidinal tension, rage and hidden conspiracies. George Eliot, no mean critic of novelistic skill, wrote of it: ‘I am only just returned to a sense of the real world about me, for I have been reading Villette, a still more wonderful book than Jane Eyre.’1 It is a book which, at times, combines an outrage of Blakean proportions against those social forces that deny sexual fulfilment with an Austenesque anger against the commodification of women. It also anticipates the unresolved sexual longing and problematic open ending of Great Expectations (1860–61), and the main target of Brontë’s rage is the same as that of Dickens’s novel: the betrayal of love and manipulation of young people by their elders.


Safe Seat Problematic Open Ending Deep Desire Wonderful Book Sexual Fulfilment 
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  1. 1.
    Quoted in John Hughes, ‘The Affective World of Charlotte Brontë’s Villette’, SEL: Studies in English Literature, 1500–1900, 40:4 (2000), pp. 711–26, p. 711.Google Scholar
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Copyright information

© David J. Jones 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  • David J. Jones
    • 1
  1. 1.Open UniversityUK

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