Thursday, March 17, 2011

Villette by Charlotte Bronte Read-a-long:: Week Six

Villette by Charlotte Bronte
This is the Week Six of the read-a-long hosted by Wallace at her blog Unputdownables. This week's reading includes chapters 26 through and including chapter 30.

Summary: (this section contains spoilers)
This week's chapters are primarily set at the school and involve quite a bit of interaction between Lucy and Monsieur Paul Emanuel. Theirs is an odd and interesting relationship but M. Paul is an eccentric man. Lucy sometimes compares him to Napoleon Bonaparte!

In chapter twenty-six, Lucy sees the ghostly figure of the nun again. She decides that her letters from Dr. John must be hidden somewhere safe because someone, other than Madame Beck, may have been snooping through them. After sealing the letters in a bottle, Lucy takes the bottle outside late one evening and buries it under the pear tree near the supposed tomb of the nun. The moon shines brightly, suddenly, and Lucy sees the spectral nun. Although afraid, Lucy approaches, speaks to and tries to touch the nun but the figure recedes and disappears. Lucy doesn't tell anyone.

M. de Bassompierre tries to hire Lucy to be a companion to Polly, offering to triple her salary. But Lucy has no interest in being a paid companion. She visits Polly frequently and they begin studying German together.

Ginevra's apparently been bragging to Polly about her relationship with Dr. Bretton(Dr.John), telling her they will be married one day. Lucy and Polly decide to test Ginevra, and arrange for her to attend a party M. de Bassompierre is hosting which Mrs. Bretton and Dr. Bretton are also attending. Things go as expected and it's clear by the end of the party that Dr. Bretton is no longer interested in Ginevra.

Dr. John upsets Lucy at the party by telling her that if she were a boy they would have been good friends. He wants Lucy to ask Polly what she remembers from the long-ago days when Polly visited Bretton but Lucy, tired of Dr. John and his self-absorbed ways, refuses. (yay!)

M. Paul is also at the party which surprises Lucy. He give a speech which he later sought Lucy's opinion regarding, obviously hoping for her approval and admiration. Lucy was shocked and pleased that M. Paul expected her to have an opinion about his speech but, as a result, words fail her. Later on, M. Paul gets upset watching Lucy talking with Dr. John. He overhears some of the conversation and misinterprets Lucy's words and actions. M. Paul quietly criticizes Lucy and says something ugly about her. Lucy's very angry. Dr. John laughs at the incident causing Lucy to become teary.

M. Paul approaches Lucy as she's leaving. He's surprised that she's upset at him. M. Paul begs Lucy’s forgiveness and when he finally gets it, in such a way that Lucy finds his face transformed, “I cannot affirm that I had ever witnessed the smile of pleasure, or content, or kindness round M. Paul’s lips, or in his eyes before. (p.363 signet classic ed.)

In the next chapter, Lucy breaks M. Paul's glasses when she interrupts one of his classes delivering an important message. M. Paul doesn't like to be interrupted. He refuses to heed the message, but isn't upset with Lucy. He's kind even though Lucy broke his glasses! But later that night, M. Paul misinterprets Lucy's actions and, once again gets upset. Before the night is over, he tells Lucy she can be unpleasant and then criticizes the way she's been dressing recently. He cautions Lucy not to wear too many accessories. She's making a gold and silk watchguard for a gentleman and teases M. Paul, asking if he disapproves of it?

Lucy spent the evening and night making the watchguard for M. Paul to give him at his school party. The students and teachers give him flowers but Lucy hangs back, not giving M. Paul his gift right away. M. Paul becomes angry and gives a lecture. Later on Lucy finds him rummaging through her desk but M. Paul doesn't seem to mind since he was leaving books for her to read. Lucy gives him the box with the watchguard which M. Paul is very happy about and puts on right away. That night they sit together in the refectory during a reading.

M. Paul is still disapproving and critical of Lucy most of the time. When he discovers she isn't well-educated in mathematics he determines he will teach her. M. Paul is very sweet as Lucy struggles to learn, but once she understands and grasps the subject, M. Paul becomes irritable and demanding as if he doesn't want her to do well. Lucy becomes angry with him and shows it by throwing the books at his feet! He wants her to take a public exam because he thinks she will fail. Lucy refuses.

My Thoughts: I am finding these chapters of Villette very funny and entertaining. I feel as if we are reading a book about children with all their games, antics and fits! Ginevra, M. Paul, Dr. John, Polly and Lucy all play these ridiculous little games with each other, as if they're in high school!

I half expect M. Paul to pull Lucy's hair at some point. She's not much better, though. I thought it was ridiculous when she didn't give him the gift she made him at the same time as everyone else did. Lucy enjoyed watching M. Paul get upset, I think. But why he had to make a big deal about not getting a gift from Lucy in front of the entire school is beyond me. It's ridiculous. M, Paul obviously likes Lucy but then he also criticizes her so much and he's rather cruel about it. I was relieved that he didn't get angry when she broke his glasses. I think it's very funny that he cuts out passages and pages from the books he gives Lucy! I laughed a lot when Lucy threw the books at M. Paul's feet, too! Good for her. If they do decide they love each other, I think they are going to have some loud arguments!

I'm glad that Lucy is finished with Dr. John for the most part. He may be a good and kind doctor but emotionally he has problems. He's obnoxious, full of himself and he uses Lucy for entertainment and amusement. He knows Lucy is sensitive about some things and he'd be blind not to realize she likes him (although he's so wrapped up in himself, it's possible he's that clueless). But Dr. John knows he's hurt Lucy in the past and he still says things to her that hurt her and then acts as if it's no matter to him. I wanted to slap him when he laughed after Lucy became angry with M. Paul at the Hotel Crecy party. In some ways, Dr. John's actually perfect for Ginevra, except that he loves his mother very much. Possibly one of his few saving graces. I wonder if Polly will fawn all over him like she did at Bretton and serve him as she does her father? I loved that Lucy gave Ginevra a sound "moral drubbing' in the carriage on the way home from the Hotel Crecy. Ginevra is a vapid, awful girl, nasty to Lucy, jealous of Polly. But I don't think she'll ever be very happy in life if she doesn't grow up a bit. I was amused at Lucy's idea for she and Polly to put Ginevra to the test regarding her bragging about Dr. John.

I feel badly for Lucy because of her crush on Dr. John...watching his interest in other women has to be difficult. But I think Lucy likes Polly and thinks she has some good values & some maturity and so Lucy's able to put her jealousy aside. I'm also happy for Lucy that she's become friends with Polly and has a small circle of people she can count on. Lucy seemed a little more content, less restless in these chapters. Hopefully her beliefs in love and happiness as pertaining to her own life, are changing!


  1. Agree with your comment about high school drama! It will be interesting to see how things progress between Lucy and M. Paul. As for me, I could not handle someone who was so hot and cold; sweet and mean; up and down - could you?

  2. "I half expect M. Paul to pull Lucy's hair at some point."

    Lol! exactly! I kept thinking of Anne of Green Gables, when Gilbert pulls her hair :)

    I cna just see that Lucy will end up with M. Paul, but I can't help thinking, just a little, that I would prefer if in the end Graham saw the error of his ways...

  3. Totally my take on Lucy and M. Paul as well. I can't help but find it sweet. I think I will be genuinely disappointed if they don't end up together.