Villette - Charlotte Brontë,  Susan Fromberg Schaffer Disclaimer: this is not a ranting review. In fact, I enjoy parts of the story a great deal and I find Lucy Snowe to be a complex and introspective narrator. I also really appreciate the brave journey she went on, leaving her home and settling somewhere new. That kind of adventure is not often portrayed in novels during the time period this was written in. I understand that Villette was a brave, feminist piece when it was first published, because it showed a likeable Christian woman breaking away from the traditional role of wife and mother. Lucy Snowe is indeed likeable, and this perspective makes me appreciate the book even more. But, when I was reading it, I was also disappointed with the ending. I was hoping that this independent woman would… stay independent. I was hoping that, following her success at the French school, she would continue traveling and see the world. I was hoping that, after reading all of her books and referencing all of these exotic places, she would take the initiative and try to go there herself. I also have some issues with the Gothic elements of the story. I understand that Charlotte Bronte is a Gothic writer by nature, but her story had so much realism in it that I found some of the stray Gothic themes a little distracting. For one thing, she faints a few times—from loneliness—and is incapacitated for months on end. This interferes with her schoolwork and makes her appear delicate to the men in the story, which is a pet peeve for me. Why do women always have to appear delicate for men to like them? I was hoping that, since Bronte took great pains to show Lucy’s strength, Lucy would have more backbone than that. As far as character development goes, I thought that Lucy—for all of her faults—is a very well-rounded character. In addition, Graham goes through a very profound transformation, though he too has a penchant for delicate women. However, some of the side characters lack depth; the schoolchildren are always portrayed as tittering, difficult idiots who Lucy is doomed to teach. I am a little unnerved at this concept, because it implies that none of the women in this story—save Lucy— have any intellectual ambition; this hinders the story, because it seems that while all the men walking around are bright and adventurous, the women are put there to be charming. And the only impulse of power the school girls take, acting in the play, is described by Lucy as a nefarious affair. I assume that Bronte herself had to deal with the stereotype of the silly female plaything, and I would have thought that she would have gone to greater lengths to show the diversity of women, and the dissatisfaction some female students had with their schooling back then. I’m still going to explore more of the Bronte sisters’ work, but Villette was a bit of a disappointment.