Brontë’s Villette: Desire and Lanternicity in the Domestic Gothic
- 245 Downloads
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.
KeywordsSafe Seat Problematic Open Ending Deep Desire Wonderful Book Sexual Fulfilment
Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.
- 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
- 2.Charlotte Brontë, Jane Eyre (Harmondsworth: Penguin, 1971), p. 227.Google Scholar
- 15.Nathaniel Hazeltine Carter, Letters from Europe, Comprising the Journal of a Tour Through Ireland, England, Scotland, France, Italy, and Switzerland, in the Years 1825,’ 26 and’ 27, vol. 1 (New York: G. & C. Carvill, 1827), p. 106.Google Scholar
- 25.See Sandra Gilbert and Susan Gubar, ‘The Buried Life of Lucy Snowe’, in Villette: Contemporary Critical Essays, ed. Pauline Nestor (Basingstoke: Macmillan, 1992), pp. 42–57, passim.Google Scholar
- 29.Toni Wein, ‘Gothic Desire in Charlotte Brontë’s Villette’, SEL: Studies in English Literature 1500–1900, 39:4 (1999), pp. 733–46, p. 740.Google Scholar
- 51.Elaine Showalter, The Female Malady: Women, Madness and English Culture 1830–1980 (New York: Pantheon Books, 1985), p. 129.Google Scholar
- 122.Joseph Conrad, Heart of Darkness (Harmondsworth: Penguin, 1973), p. 16.Google Scholar