Chapter 14, "The Fete"
How is M. Paul Emmanuel described? How does he behave toward Madame Beck's students? (129, berates them for lack of emotion)
Does Lucy have sympathy for his attitude?
How does she prepare for the upcoming school fete? (buys sober dress)
How does M. Paul request her services as an actor? (demands them) What seems to be his opinion of her (and of Englishwomen) (133-34)?
What do you make of the fact that he locks her in the attic? (135) That he ignores her need for food, and then atones by feeding her himself? (137, food symbolic)
What traits does Lucy reveal in preparing for her stage appearance? What is the symbolism of her dress for playing a male role? (139, will adopt certain tokens of maleness, result is gender ambiguity)
What emotions overcome her as she acts this role? (plays role of flirtatious fop with zest) How do you interpret her behavior toward Ginevra onstage? (once again she is the third party and Ginevra directs her performance toward de Hamal)
What does Lucy resolve after this event? (never to act again, 141) What do you think motivates her vow? (fear that acting will release aspects of herself she wishes to repress)
What is the effect on her and of Ginevra respectively of Dr. John's presence in the audience?
In their conversation after the ball, what attitudes does Ginevra betray toward Lucy, and toward her suitors? (points out how much handsomer and better connected she is)
What is Lucy's attitude in response? (rejects value of gaze, maintains self-respect)
Why does Ginevra prefer Alfred de Hamal to Dr. John, and what is Lucy's reaction?
In what ways does Lucy participate vicariously in Dr. John’s wooing? (brings shawl to Ginevra when he wishes it, 148; pleads his case, 148; even shakes her, 150)
How does Lucy counter Dr. John's claim that Lucy must enjoy the presence of Ginevra because of the latter's childlike innocence? Is the author making a point about the sexual double standard? (turns his words on him to defend de Hamal, 152)
Chapter 15, "The Long Vacation"
What do we learn about M. Paul's person and character in this chapter?
With what vice does M. Paul charge Lucy? (putting herself forward, 155) Is this what the reader would have expected?
What causes intensify her depression during the vacation? How does Lucy describe the cretin for whom she is obligated to care, and what seems her attitude toward her? (157, disgust and resentment)
Why do you think she may feel so strongly about this association? (fears image of her own isolation)
What metaphor is used to describe her despair? (159) Since she has expressed dislike for French Catholicism, and there would have been Protestant churches in Villette, why does Bronte sends her protagonist to a church of which she ostensibly disapproves?
What prompts her to “confess” to a priest? What prompts her lengthy explanation to the reader of her reasons for not accepting Pere Silas’s invitation?
What events precede Lucy's fainting? Are these symbolic? (becomes lost and loses her way)
What concerns would the Victorian reader have felt at the end of vol. 1?
Chapter 16, "Auld Lang Syne"
What objects prompt Lucy's memory of her past? What qualities of character does she project into the portrait of Graham? (female gaze)
Where has she ended up? How were the Brettons apprised of her situation?
What is the relationship of the adult Dr. John and his mother? What nickname does he give her? (speaks of his fine nature, 171)
Who first recognizes Lucy? Does Lucy seem credible in asserting that she had recognized John Bretton, but not mentioned this fact previously?
If so, why may Lucy have concealed her knowledge of Dr. John's identity until now?
What do Lucy and her friends have to tell one another about the interval since their last meeting?
Why does Lucy weep at the knowledge that she has met friends at last? (178)
Chapter 17, "La Terasse"
What images does Lucy use to describe her anxiety dreams?
What does Lucy learn about who had befriended her in her collapse?
What does she tell Dr. John had been the cause of her pain? (185) How does he respond? (detachedly, views her as patient; Dr. John based on character of her publisher)
Chapter 18, "We Quarrel"
What importance lies in the narrator’s statement that her opinions will change? To whom do we expect this disclaimer will apply? (Dr. John and Paul Emmanuel)
Who are the "we" of the chapter title? What causes Lucy's sharp words to Dr. John? (calls him a slave, 189)
How does he respond? (doesn’t greatly care; isn’t offended)
How do they differ about Ginevra's motives for accepting his gifts? Does Lucy judge each party by an equal standard?
What causes her to believe that Dr. John may be aware of Ginevra's real character and motive for accepting gifts? (an expression on his face, 194)
In any case, why does Lucy preoccupy herself with the matter?
Chapter 19, "Cleopatra"
What is Lucy’s reaction when Dr. John makes fun of Madam Beck’s behavior in his presence? (196) Does such behavior seem consistent with what we know of him?
What flaws does Lucy ascribe to him? (97, vanity and levity) Does it seem inconsistent that these haven’t been previously mentioned?
What qualities does Lucy claim to be seeking in art? (199, "truth to nature") Would other mid-Victorians have agreed with her? (Pre-Raphaelites, Ruskin)
What forms of art/cultural critique of gender prescriptions are embedded in this chapter?
What does Lucy think is repellent in the picture of Cleopatra? (vulgarly sensuous)
Why does the French painting of "a woman's life" offend her? (demands conventional piety about domestic roles)
What is revealed in this scene about Lucy's feelings about sensual experience and social norms for women?
Would her attitudes toward these paintings have been shared by other Englishwomen at the time?
What seems unusual and significant about her remaining in the art gallery alone? (usually not done at time; able to gather her true thoughts)
How do Dr. John and M. Paul interpret her presence there, and how do they respond to the works of art which cause her offense? (Paul Emmanuel feels it is inappropriate that she view the Reubens picture, but enjoys it for himself; Dr. John shares her lack of interest in both pictures)
How are we to interpret Dr. John’s contrast between the Ruebens woman as painted and his mother? (he prefers his mother, 206, his mother also full-bodied)
What do you make of the repeated deprecation of Cleopatra as a "mulatto"?
What seems to characterize Lucy's associations with M. Paul Emmanuel? (203, a certain amount of tension)
What value does she set on Dr. John’s opinions on art? (will never forget them, 206; the figure of Dr. John may have been based on that of Bronte’s publisher, George Smith, and it seems reasonable that she may have valued the latter’s opinions on art)
Chapter 20, "The Concert"
What new sights and experiences befall Lucy when she attends a concert with the Brettons?
What is the significance of the scene in which she views herself with her hosts in a mirror? (209-210)
How does she contrast herself with the Labassecourean women she sees there? What do we learn from her response to the melancholy king? (211)
How does Ginevra behave at the concert, and with what result? (mocks at Mrs. Bretton and him, 217) How could Dr. John be certain from a distance of what Ginevra is saying to her friend? (Dr. John discusses Ginevra’s reaction with Lucy)
What further aspect of Ginevra’s responses does he find offensive? (feels her flirtatious looks at de Hamal indicate her bad character) Has he shifted from being too trusting to being too condemnatory?
What role does Lucy play in all this?
Who else sees Lucy there, and what is his reaction? Who else sees Lucy there, and what is his reaction? (Paul Emmanuel)
What part does he take in the performance? (seems to be partly in charge, brother of chief performer)
What seems to motivate his "swarthy frown"? (jealousy) What do you make of his pushing her as he passes? (223)
Chapter 21, "The Reaction"
What are Lucy's emotions on returning to the Pensionnat? What prompts Dr. John to promise he will write? Why does she fasten emotionally on the hope that he will write rather than on, say, the hope of future visits?
What is the significance of the allegory of Reason and comfort? (229-30) Why does Lucy speak of her emotions thus indirectly?
What is the nature and significance of the conversations between her and M. Paul? How can you explain his hostility?
What causes Lucy to weep? Under what circumstances does he question her? Are his questions friendly or intrusive? Why is M. Paul preoccupied with her emotions?
What do we learn of Lucy’s relationship to Ginevra during this period? What do you make of the fact that Ginevra always sits next to her, walks with her, and leans on her?
What attitude does Ginevra express toward Dr. John, and how does Lucy respond to her questions about how he had reacted to her rudeness at the concert?
Why does Lucy report that she is more content with Ginevra than before? (237)
How do you account for the fact that M. Paul delivers Graham's letter to Lucy? That he intuits and seems displeased at her happiness? (jealousy, 241)
Of what does she assure him? (that the letter is solely one of friendship)
What is the effect of presenting so much of M. Paul's conversation in French? Of the frequent use of French throughout the narrative?
What has he promised would be their relationship? (she reminds him that he had said they would be friends, 241)
Chapter 22, "The Letter"
What is the tone of Dr. John’s letters? (friendly, thoughtful, unromantic) How does Lucy respond to them? (254, writes two letters and destroys the first)
What happens to Dr. John's letter? How is Lucy's relationship with the sender affected by the manner in which he returns it to her? (he has picked it up but teases her by not giving it to her at once, 247)
What apparition causes her to drop it, and is the visitation real or imagined? Is it significant that Dr. John believes it a figment of her brain?
What symbolism, if any, do you see in Lucy's fear of the apparition of a nun while opening Dr. John's letter in the garret?
Chapter 23, "Vashti"
What is Lucy's opinion of the actress Vashti? (feels some sympathy for her)
How does this contrast with that of Dr. John? What does this judgment of her reveal about his character? Does this harsh judgment seem consistent with his earlier attitudes, e. g., in the art gallery?
What qualities in him, Lucy and others are revealed on the outbreak of a fire? Whom do they meet again in these circumstances?
What symbolism seems embedded in the fire incident?
Chapter 24, "M. de Bassompierre"
What change in Lucy's life is brought about by the reintroduction of the Bassompierres? What images does Lucy use to describe her frustrations?
Who finally writes Lucy, and what news does she give of the family's financial past? (Mrs. Bretton mentioned that the Brettons may at last receive an inheritance which had been denied them) Whom does she invite Lucy to meet?
How is Ginevra related to the Bassompierres? What causes her to find her social evening with them unpleasant?
What is Paulina's response to Lucy on greeting her? Is it significant that she recognizes Lucy before the latter recognizes her? How is she described? (inner radiance, 276)
Which memories of the past are dear to Polly? What does she seem worried about in the present? How is the reader expected to evaluate her character and feelings for Dr. John?
Chapter 25, "The Little Countess"
What is Paulina's relationship with her father? Are there symbolic aspects to her drinking from Graham's tankard of ale?
How does she respond to the news that Lucy is employed as a teacher? What may this indicate about the social status of teachers at the time?
What causes her father's suggestion that Paulina attend Madame Beck's school to fail? What mutual study do they undertake? (German, 301)
What characterizes her renewed friendship with Graham? (he observes her contentedly)
Chapter 26, "A Burial"
How have the preceding events altered Lucy's apparent social status? What is made of the fact that Madame Beck examines Dr. John's letters to Lucy?
What is the significance of Lucy's decision to bury the letters from Dr. John? (burying a grief, 246) Why do you think she chooses this time to do so?
How do you interpret her recurrent vision of the nun? Why must she keep the apparition secret? (no one to tell, 297)
What plans for her future does Lucy make? (wants to start a school, 296-97)
What previous offer has she refused? (has refused offer to be a companion to Paulina for three times her salary) Why has she done so? (values her independence, 298)
Who else has been watching Lucy, and with what motives? Why do you think he is concerned with her religion?
What changes in Madame Beck’s behavior occur at this time? (starts to observe Lucy and to seek to prevent her conversations with Paul Emmanuel)
What is revealed as the motives which have caused Paulina's sudden shyness toward Dr. John? (has heard from Ginevra that he is courting her)
What role, if any, does Lucy play in setting things to rights? (suggests a party to which Ginevra and Dr. John are both invited, 305)
What limitation characterizes Paulina’s speech? (she lisps when not careful, 301)
Chapter 27, "The Hotel de Crecy"
What new qualities are revealed in Paul Emmanuel's oration?
What seem to be his political views, and how progressive would these have seemed at the time? (311, period of European revolutions, southern provinces separated from the Netherlands in 1831 and Belgium became a constitutional monarchy with French as its official language)
How are Ginevra and Paulina dressed for the banquet? (in red and white respectively)
What attitudes does Dr. John reveal toward Paulina and Lucy respectively in his conversations with the latter at the banquet? (thinks Lucy would have been his good friend had she been a man, 315, describes her as inoffensive, 317)
What is Paul Emmanuel’s response to this social event? (seems out of place, doesn’t stay long) At what point does he interrupt her conversation with Graham? (318, he asks her to reveal his identity to Paulina)
How does Ginevra respond to the recognition that her rejected lover pursues her no more? What irritations and conflicts between Ginevra and Lucy frame this chapter?
Of what does M. Paul accuse Lucy, and how does Dr. John respond to this? (318, accuses her of being a coquette; Dr. John laughs)
After M. Paul apologies, of what does he ask Lucy to reassure him? (that he is her friend, 320-21)
Does Lucy's vituperation of Ginevra form a satisfactory ending to the second volume? What might readers at the end of vol. II have anticipated might happen next?
Chapter 28, "The Watchguard"
According to Lucy, how does Monsieur Paul respond to interruptions? Why does Lucy interrupt his lessons to tell him of the official visitors? (they have come to interview him)
What seems unusual about their relationship? As an alternative, what does he suggest that she should do? (should wear his hat and interview the visiting examiners herself—a kind of gender ambiguity)
How does he respond to her accidental breaking of his glasses, and what does this indicate? (accuses her of wanting him to be blind! 326)
How does she respond to his reading of a French translation of Shakespeare? What changes does he make in translation? (328, censors and alters the text)
How does he react to her clothes, and in what context does he express his views? (she is embroidering a watchgard) Why do his comments not annoy her? (enjoys her own calm while he frets, 330)
Chapter 29, "Monsieur's Fete"
According to the narrator, what special alleged gifts of perception are revealed in M. Paul's gazes, e. g. at Zelie St. Pierre? (337, able to see character) What purpose is served by these observations of others?
What do we learn about M. Paul's nationality? Is it ever clarified? Is it significant that he too doesn't seem entirely French/Labassecourian? (has Spanish ancestry)
What physical description does Lucy give of M. Paul? Which of his features is most compelling, and is this significant? (eyes are striking, his other features are nondescript, even homely; his brow is sometimes furrowed, his face sometimes dark)
According to Lucy, which sex does M. Paul prefer as company? (If she is correct, what may be some reasons for this?)
What prompts M. Paul's angry remarks about English women, and Lucy's rejoinder? (341, What must their students have thought!)
What transpires in the scene in which Lucy finds M. Paul placing books in her desk? How is he described? What emotion does he state he does not wish from her?
Why does she delay in giving her gift to him? Why do you think she chooses a watchguard rather than flowers?
Why do you think she didn’t choose to present it in the public ceremony? (its personal character suggests that it should be given in private)
How does he receive her profered gift? (very pleased) Of what does he need to be reassured? (that it has been made exclusively for him, 346)
Do little containers (boxes, bottles, drawers, small rooms and "cabinets") have a symbolic role in the novel?
Chapter 30, "M. Paul"
What do you make of M. Paul's hostility toward Madame Panache? What does Lucy think of his behavior?
How is his role as her teacher described? Does his behavior as teacher seem consistent with their earlier association? (disapproves when she advances rapidly, 351, feels competitiveness as she gains knowledge, 356)
Of what does he suspect her? (of knowing Greek and Latin) What would have been some implications of this accusation at the time? (province of men)
What views on the intellect/education of women does M. Paul express? Are these views consistent with his actual behavior toward women/his women pupils?
How does Lucy/Bronte describe the creative process as she experiences it?
What symbolic gesture does he make to soothe the situation? (offers fruit, feeds her, 356)
Under what circumstances does she flee his presence? (he wishes her to answer in a public examination, 356)
What seems the grounds for their attraction to one another? (both intense, but outwardly quite dissimilar)
Chapter 31, "The Dryad"
What is a “dryad”? What guest of Madame Beck’s causes Lucy unease? (a very young woman—later will turn out to be M. Paul’s ward, and engaged to a young German)
What plans does Lucy make for her professional future? (hopes to be a teacher with an independent establishment) Does this constitute a kind of foreshadowing of the conclusion?
What does she find lacking in these future projections?
Who covers her with a shawl while she sleeps, and how does she respond?
When she meets M. Paul, what does he claim she requires? (363, “watching, and watching over”)
What secret occupation does he reveal to her? Does this seem in character? Surprising? Ominous? (seems a voyeur, 363—similar to viewpoint of novelist)
What is Lucy’s response? Could there have been other grounds for disapprobation than religious conviction?
What claim does M. Paul make regarding his and Lucy’s personalities? How persuasive is this? (he feels they have affinities—claims she is his double!) What literary genre is suggested by this claim? (gothic romance)
What unsettling apparition do they both claim to have seen? (he too has observed the nun in his spying) What occurs as they speak of this personage/presence?
Is it important that they see “her” together? From what doubt does this free Lucy? (that the nun may be a figment of her diseased fantasies)
Chapter 32, “The First Letter”
To what does the title of the chapter refer?
Under what circumstances does Lucy again meet Graham/Dr. John and the Bassompierres, and what greeting does she receive from each?
What feeling does Lucy self-consciously express toward Paulina? (371, likes her)
During Lucy’s visit, what expressions of friendship and confidences do the two women share? (373, Paulina expresses love for Lucy and also for Dr. John)
Are there any parallels in the two women’s response to Dr. John? (both cherish his letters)
What advice does Lucy give her in response to her news? (to damp down her responses, 375-76) Was this reasonable advice in the context?
What do you think Lucy feels as she expresses approbation of the Paulina/Graham romance? How does she contrast Paulina’s fate with her own? (some born to happiness and some not, 375, 377)
Do the contrasts Lucy makes seem condescending? (Paulina has needed a happier life in order to blossom, 376)
With what consolation does the chapter end? (there must be some divine meaning for the different apportionment of fate, 377)
Chapter 33, “M. Paul Keeps His Promise”
What promise does M. Paul keep, and what are some especially pleasant features of the day? In what ways does he favor Lucy with his attention, and what expression of devotion does she make in return?
Does the domestic and shared nature of these bucolic festivities suggest a happier future?
What softening of the religious biases of each seems to occur during the feast?
Is M. Paul surprised at Lucy’s expression of attachment? What ominous remarks does he make? (if he were to leave for years, would she remember him?)
Does this seem a reasonable demand under the circumstances?
Who seems to admonish and beseech M. Paul? (Madame Beck) Why does Lucy avoid his presence when he seeks her in her usual haunts?
Who now intervenes to prevent their meeting? (385) Is this failure to meet important? (he is not able to explain his situation to her)
Chapter 34, “Malevola”
Who is “Malevola”? Upon what errand does Madame Beck send Lucy, and with what purpose? (to deliver fruit as a birthday gift, 386) How is the gift received? (with scorn)
What weather does Lucy encounter as she visits the house of Madame Walravens? Have there been earlier symbolic storms in the novel?
What imagery is used to describe the house of Madame Walravens? How is the house itself described, and who inhabits it? Is there any symbolic import to her name?
What do we learn about Madame Walravens herself? (old, short, hostile, jealous, rude, laden with jewels, 389)
What tale of M. Paul does Pere Silas impart to Lucy? (391-92, when young loved the now-dead Justine Marie, who before her death had entered a convent, and as an adult, he supports her surviving family in opulence)
What is now his relationship of Pere Silas and Madame Walravens? (he is their benefactor and thus, according to Pere Silas, cannot afford marriage, 393)
Is it important that M. Paul doesn’t convey his own history to her himself? Is this account credible? Does the narrative later give us any cause to doubt it?
On Lucy’s return to the pennsionat, what new aspects of the story are added by Madame Beck? (claims that M. Paul wishes to remain unmarried in order to join Justine-Marie chastely in heaven, 396) Is she a necessarily reliable informant?
Chapter 35, “Fraternity”
To what test does M. Paul subject Lucy, and to what degree does she resist or comply? (must prove her capacities to outside examiners, she writes an answer but cannot speak)
What motives have inspired this demand? (school is examined for certification) What reason does she give for her first tongue-tied reaction? (not a man, 400)
Does this episode seem to fit well with other aspects of the plot at this stage?
What does Lucy tell M. Paul she has learned about his past, and how does he respond? (403, she alludes to his charities; he claims she does not understand him)
Is it significant that she avoids details of what Pere Silas has actually said, including his relationship to the dead nun Justine Marie?
What promise do they share? (of friendship, 407) Is it significant that this is not a vow of marriage?
What do you think of M. Paul’s choice to support his former tutor and, on a lavish scale, his early love’s grandmother and the latter’s servant?
Who interrupts their tryst, and from what motive? (Madame Beck, wishes to prevent loss of money to her circle and the church)
Chapter 36, “The Apple of Discord”
What are some new details which we learn about M. Paul’s private habits? Why haven’t we heard of Sophie or his gardening before?
What was the “apple of discord” in mythology, and what is it in this chapter? (religious differences) What means are used to effect Lucy’s conversion, and on what grounds do they fail? (propagandistic tracts)
What objections does she state to 19th century Catholicism? Are these entirely religious preferences, or do they suggest differences of ethnicity or culture? (she prefers plainer and more direct Protestant appeals to God)
What views does Lucy express about the different varieties of Christianity? (difference groups should unite, 419)
Would this have been an unusual view at the time? Today? (eucumenical movement influential)
What discussion ensues between her and Paul Emmanuel, and with what result? Does each finally come to accept the other’s views as appropriate for them? Do you think that these two could in fact have overcome their religious differences in a happy marriage?
Has M. Paul’s character seemed to change during the novel? Had he seemed religious or under the control of others earlier in the book?
Chapter 37, “Sunshine”
To what does the chapter title refer? What satisfaction, if any, can Lucy derive from the courtship of Graham and Paulina?
Does she approve of the mode in which Graham courts Paulina? What advice does she give the latter, and is this in accord with Victorian modes of decorum? (after receiving one letter and responding, to refrain from further letters—this would be considered proper)
On what topic does Paulina press Lucy, and what response does she give? (that she should live with her and Dr. John) Does this seem a reasonable suggestion? What is Lucy’s response? (no)
Do you think Paulina comprehends the complexity of Lucy’s situation? Was Lucy’s response wise? (she feels heart-broken)
What role does Lucy play during this courtship? M. de Bassompierre? Do these seem natural interventions? (429, she argues on the lovers’ behalf to Paulina’s father—a role Dr. John would presumably have been expected to take)
How does Graham himself describe Lucy? (as true, 433) Does this bring her satisfaction? (to some degree, but bitter)
What future life awaits Graham and Paulina, and to what does Lucy attribute their happiness? (they will have at least one son and daughters)
With whose fate is theirs implicitly contrasted?
Chapter 38, “Cloud”
Who imparts to the students the news that M. Paul will soon be leaving, and how do they respond? (they weep, 439) Is Lucy sympathetic to their loss? (feels anger, her loss is greater) Where is he going?
What is the relationship between M. Paul and Lucy before his departure? (441, they spend tranquil time together)
What techniques does Madame Beck use to prevent a final meeting between M. Emmanuel and Lucy, and what note does he leave for her? (says he must tell her certain things in person, 445)
What is Lucy’s response to Madame Beck’s suggestion that she should take an opiate? (rebels, criticizes her as a “sensualist,” 447, but has taken what was offered her)
What sharp intervention does Madame Beck make? (you must not marry M. Paul, 447) Should this have been an issue between them?
Does this seem to the point? Is the reader prepared for Lucy’s claim that Madame Beck wishes to marry Paul Emmanuel herself?
What effect does the undesired opiate have on Lucy? Are the dream adventures she encounters “real,” and if so, what evidence supports this view?
What does she see when she first enters the city center of Villette? What group of people has gathered in the park?
What does Lucy overhear said about her by Mrs. Bretton and Mr. Home/Bassompierre? (456)
What do you make of the scene in which Graham recognizes her but she motions him to silence? (symbolic that he is the sole one who sees her, returns her “gaze” but she is able in this context to politely deflect him)
Whom does Lucy encounter in the gathering surrounding Madame Beck and her daughter? What aspects of the situation seem surprising and ominous?
What are some symbolic aspects of this scene? Its psychological importance? Can you think of other literary analogues?
Chapter 39, “Old and New Acquaintance”
What further information has Lucy learned about M. Paul’s intentions? Does it seem inappropriate that she should need to learn these indirectly?
Is any reason given for why M. Paul should feel obligated to dedicate some years of his life to increasing the elderly Madame Walraven’s income?
What occurs in the scene in which M. Paul and Madame Beck’s friends are gathered with Madame Walravens, Pere Silas and Justine Marie?
What prompts Lucy to feel distress and jealousy? Do her fears seem reasonable? What do we learn about Justine Marie herself?
What emotions does Lucy express at having penetrated to the “truth” of the cabal’s plans for M. Paul’s marriage? Is Lucy’s voice here that of the narrator? (465-67)
What purpose is served by her recountal of her emotions at this juncture? In contrast to her earlier attraction, what qualities have made her love for M. Paul more worthy of prevailing? Does she blame M. Paul for her predicament?
What prompts her return home?
What do you make of the waved handkerchief from the passing carriage?
What greets Lucy on her return to her cot? Are there symbolic aspects to this scene?
Chapter 40, “The Happy Pair”
Who are the happy pair, and what is their fate throughout life? Are they appropriately mated?
What previous conundra are explained by Ginevra's letter?
Aristotle says that a plot in which the unworthy are rewarded is a farce. Why do you think the story of Ginevra and de Hamal was inserted at this late place in the tale?
Chapter 41, “Fauborg Clotilde”
What struggle must M. Paul and Lucy overcome before they are able to leave the Rue Fossette together? What prompts M. Paul to test Lucy’s constancy?
On what point does she need reassurance?
What are some features of the small school which M. Paul has prepared for Lucy? What do you make of the fact that he has arranged everything to his own taste, without consultation?
What has enabled him to afford these furnishings? What expense will Lucy herself need to pay?
What confession does she make, and what comforting information about Justine Marie does this evoke?
What finally prompts M. Paul’s declaration of love? Is it perhaps significant that he doesn’t refer to marriage? What seems to have happened to the dead-saint-in-heaven plot?
Chapter 42 Finis
Why do we learn so little about M. Paul’s three years managing the affairs of a plantation in Guadaloupe? Would Madame Walgravens’ plantations have included sugar plantations? Slave labor? (slavery abolished in 1804)
Do you find M. Paul’s willing relinguishment of his career and fiancé for a period of colonial management to be entirely plausible?
What tone/imagery pervades the final chapter?
Has the reader been fully prepared for M. Paul’s death in shipwreck?
Why does Bronte end the novel with the narrator's report that her three antagonists have fared well?
Do you find Bronte's ending consistent with the expectations created throughout the novel? Her publisher had desired a happy ending (much as at the end of Jane Eyre)--would this have been appropriate?
Some pervasive themes: return of prior relationships; revelation through public performance; secrecy vs. intimate confession; enclosures vs. expansive wastes; reading of countenances, physiognomy; distancing use of third person; alternation of praise and abuse; self-abasement and self-assertion; alternation of allegorical/poetic and literal passages.