How does Villette focus on feminine repression in regard to Lucy Snowe?

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One of he main themes of Villette is the identity—or lack thereof—of Lucy Snowe. The notion of "repression" is rife in Villette, but in many ways the elusiveness of Lucy's character has to do with her status as a "nobody." That is, because she does not fit in any of the roles assigned to Victorian women, she is a marginal character, "as inoffensive as a shadow," and, in that sense, free to develop as a real person.

At the same time, her ambiguous status limits her ability to interact with others. For instance, while Dr John is attracted to her intellect, recognizing Lucy as his peer, he cannot accept her as a friend, because she is a woman, and he can not accept her as a romantic interest, because of her "masculine" intellect. In this respect, Lucy's subjectivity is circumscribed by the Victorian gender roles others would assign to her and which she cannot fulfill.

Lucy's maturation and growth into self-knowledge over the course of the novel is, oddly, a result of this sort of repression. Without family or friends, Lucy must look inward to understand her feelings and, in doing so, recognize how men like Dr John seek to objectify her.

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