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Day 9

Villette by Charlotte Brontë

Chapter XIV

November 23, 2022 by Yiyun Li

Lucy’s wry humor shines in this chapter. My favorite moment: she threatens a duel with St. Pierre (“if she were not a lady and I a gentleman”). M. Paul, not missing a beat, offers his pistols to settle “the old quarrel of France and England.” Hohoho.

Lucy being called to act echoes the moment when Fanny, in Mansfield Park, is asked to join the play. Though Lucy is much more interesting and subversive than Fanny: in a man’s costume she “rivalled and out-rivalled” not only Dr. John, but surely any man!

Lucy’s separate conversations with Ginevra and with Dr. John: how dull those two are in comparison with Lucy; how blind they are; how they strut around as living clichés.

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