Villette, by Charlotte Bronte

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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 host... ... middle of paper ... ...tive of her character. Rather, her true character is something which exists partially only in the scope of her own mind, an identity not ever fully realized or conveyed to any other character, and is visible only through her inner dialogue. Even the reader is only given shadows of this intangible heroine's inner thoughts. For Snowe, just as her name might serve to indicate is a mélange of lightness and dark, of fire and ice—she can be both reserved and tempestuous, timid and bold, much like the nature of a passing storm. Snowe's character is at best an impalpable entity as within the scope of Villette only glimpses are given of an elusive heroine who choses what she reveals to her reader. Yet, she is nothing if not strong and resilient, just as the tempest she alludes to and tries so fiercely to fight: the very storm that is ultimately at the heart of her very being.
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