Don’t read this unless you’ve already read Villette chapter 16. Or wouldn’t for all the tea in China. Then why you’d want to read this, I’m not sure. I apparently don’t know how to count and read through chapter 16 which has a fairly big plot point you probably don’t want ruined if you’re reading. So, fellow readalongers, go back to the book, read chapter 16, and then come back and read this post if you remember.
Anyway, I have now finished the second week’s section of Villette and it’s a head-scratcher. I should probably write these posts as I go because I forget all the questions and observations I had in chapters 6 – 10 or so. Lucy manages to stumble upon Mme. Beck’s on her first night (the school Ginevra Fanshawe mentioned) and talks her way into a job that night. Mme. Beck is a singularly nosy headmistress who not only searches Lucy’s belongings, but makes an impression of her keys so she can do so at will. This doesn’t bother Lucy. Just the first of Lucy’s peculiarities. I wonder if any of this happened to Charlotte? Lucy turns out to be just the thing and moves from being governess to Mme’s children, whom she takes good care of, but doesn’t care about, to English teacher. She stays friends with Ginevra although she actually tells her at one point that the girl has made no impression on her heart. Lucy’s cold and would make an excellent vampire. She is full of scorn for Ginevra’s shallowness, and everyone else’s flaws as well. No one passes muster with Lucy except she admires Madame, who’s a snoop par excellence and doesn’t have any affection for her children, and Dr. John, whom she appears indifferent to for quite a while, but then she’s so pissed off at Ginevra for not valuing Dr. John’s affections, I finally realized she is into him.
There’s a peculiar scene where she is called upon to act in the school play at the last moment as a man, but won’t wear pants. Though she discovers that evening a love of acting, she squelches it thoroughly. And she won’t dance, don’t ask her. She’s a real pill. Even if it turns out she’s actually not bad looking, it’s hard to picture anyone falling for her, unless they’re fond of Puritans. She wants to observe and not live her life. But then the school holiday arrives and she has nowhere to go and everyone leaves and she’s literally bored out of her mind. Apparently being able to look down on everyone was what kept her going all this while. Left to her own devices, which I would have thought would have been a treat for her, she falls apart. Wandering the street in a fever, she confesses all to a priest, then goes and faints in the street. Luckily she’s not run over, she wakes in what appears to be the house we first met her in — the Bretton’s house in Bretton. This weirds her out no end, which might be natural except that ** MAJOR SPOILER** she’s known for months that Graham Bretton and Dr. John were one and the same person and never said a thing about it. Still she can’t figure out how this furniture could be there. Does she not know people can bring their furniture with them when they move? I shake my head at the weirdness of this chick and figure it’s another 10 years before she’s in an asylum. Her total lack of understanding of anything around her and her strange attitude toward everyone bodes ill in my view. Did she not want to know how her godmother was? They were on friendly terms, why the hell didn’t she say, hey, Dr. John, it’s me, Lucy Snowe. There seems no good reason for this except she’s secretive and has no real interest in being friends. She’s an odd duck and no mistake. So when does Miss Polly Home make her entrance? Surely everyone should accidentally wind up in Villette?
Clearly the artist did not read the book. Lucy does not have a rosy complexion.