‘Music to my Ears’: Lucy Snowe’s French Connection in Villette
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Drawing on theories of Bakhtin and John Edwards, this essay argues that the profusion of French in Charlotte Brontë’s novels derives not from authorial caprice but from careful artistic design. Especially in Villette, the judicious placement of such ‘foreign’ elements underscores Lucy Snowe’s emergence from Anglophone passivity to Francophone agency. Above all, in the counterpointing of the two male leads, Dr Graham Bretton and M. Paul Emanuel, this shift in linguistic gestalt becomes manifest. It is clinched in the culminating confrontation between Mme Beck and M. Paul, where the distribution of the two languages is dramatically telling.
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