Villette, By Charlotte Bronte Essay

2173 words - 9 pages


The passage appears at the end of Volume 1 of Villette, just after Lucy Snowe's paralyzing episode in which she questions her future, those who loved her and even her life. It is this moment of doubt that propels Snowe forward into a dizzying torment of anguish and despair as she wrestles with herself and the outside world. Her language and diction used in these ending thoughts of the first volume underscore both essences of internal and external turmoil as she becomes entangled in the force of the storm:
If the storm had lulled at little at sunset, it made up now for lost time. Strong and horizontal thundered the current of the wind from north-west to south-east; it brought rain like spray, and sometimes, a sharp hail like shot; it was cold and pierced me to the vitals. I bent my head to meet it, but it beat me back. My heart did not fail at all in this conflict, I only wished that I had wings and could ascend the gale, spread and repose my pinions on its strength, career in its course, sweep where it swept. While wishing this, I suddenly felt colder before I felt cold, and more powerless where before I was weak. (163-164 Villette, Charlotte Bronte)

In this moment it is apparent that Lucy Snowe has undergone a momentous shift reflected in the diction, which portrays the passing of a violent, and tumultuous storm. Indeed, Snowe's conflict mirrors that of the storm as she finds herself at odds not only with the world around her but is conflicted internally as well. In doubting of her own self worth and “inmost spirit” (160) as she attests just prior to this, she questions her life and begins to question death as well. This moment of doubt unhinges her commonly unfaltering character thrusting her into an unknown, and hostile state of mind in which she doubts her conviction and questions even the most innate qualities of her character that she had previously seldom doubted before. This contention of beliefs particularly in her core principles causes Snowe, like the violent storm in which she is engulfed to become muddled and chaotic as she struggles to maintain her sense of self and salvage her identity from what remains.
So much is Snowe affected by the storm that she feels it physically encroaching upon her, as a cutting, aggressive almost threatening entity, “it was cold and perceived me to the vitals”. Moreover, the language reflects a pressing, and menacing force, which imperils Snowe's “vitals” and perhaps even her life. The storm's force, just as the other forces beyond Snowe's control such as society, appears to have the ability to physically inflict control and power over her, compelling her to acknowledge and perhaps summit to its power, “I bent my head to meet it, but it beat me back”. Yet, while the symbolic nature of Snowe's head bending to meet the storm is one, which might invoke sentiments of submission, in this moment it appears rather that Snowe is making a conscious decision to meet the storm head-on, as is referenced...

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