Barchester Tower, Great Expectations, and Essay

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Farewell." (Bronte 596)

In other obvious ways, the novel divides itself from the values of recognition, suggesting that individuality is a multiple and variable potential, a power of estrangement or alteration as much as it is a power of identity. Here, fate seems to play an important part if we consider, for instance, the multiple scenes of non-recognition in the novel: Lucy goes to Belgium where she meets Graham again; he helps her at night, though she does not recognize him, and he does not recognize her; nor do they recognize each other on the many occasions when he is at the school. Recognition only takes place after he and his mother have taken her in after her collapse, and she recognizes their furniture and ornaments. Again, Paulina returns, and she and Lucy fail to recognize each other for a longtime, as do Paulina and Graham. She also comes across the same priest twice.

The coincidences of plot are abundant in Villette. The fact that Lucy was acquainted with a de Bassompierre in childhood, and that she just happens to meet another relative of that family (Ginevra) on her sea-crossing may appear hard to believe when considered as a whole.
However, the world of early nineteenth-century Europe was smaller than today, with fewer people in the educated classes. Since there was no electronic communication, word of mouth was more important then. It is not outside the realm of possibility that Lucy would meet these two people in the manner that she did, but it is still remarkably convenient for the plot. Bronte never veers into the fantastic; merely the believably improbable. Bronte even wryly inserts into the mind of Lucy, upon the reunion with Polly, the idea that "it seems a miracle when that chance befalls" (Bronte Chapter 24). This device, especially with the excellent character development for which Bronte is famous, was more common and more credible in novels of her day than what many readers prefer today.

Bronte, Charlotte. Villette. London: Penguin, 1985.….....

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