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Day 2

Villette by Charlotte Brontë

Chapter III

November 16, 2022 by Yiyun Li

This structure, “I, Lucy Snowe,” always thrills: the urge to conceal is underlined by a strong statement about herself.

Nobody spoke. Mrs. Bretton, being a mother, shed a tear or two. Graham… lifted up his eyes and gazed at her. I, Lucy Snowe, was calm.

Borrowing from Stendhal: “A novel is a mirror carried along a high road. At one moment it reflects to your vision the azure skies, at another the mire of the puddles at your feet.” Lucy hides behind a narrative mirror that is made to feel distant and cold.

Graham is 16, Lucy 14, Polly 6. The chapter is the portrait of Lucy as the third wheel. Graham states that Polly amuses him “more than Lucy Snowe.” Polly asks Lucy if she likes Graham. “Like him! Yes, a little,” Lucy replies. The queen of understatement!

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