Characters Discussed

(Great Characters in Literature)

Lucy Snowe

Lucy Snowe, a quiet, intelligent, and hardworking young English girl whose grave demeanor covers a deeply passionate nature. Orphaned at an early age, she spends her childhood in the homes of distant relatives and with her godmother, Mrs. Bretton. Later, through a varied chain of circumstances, she goes to Villette, a city on the Continent, where she becomes a governess in the household of Madame Beck, the mistress of a boarding school for girls. Before long, Madame Beck gives her a post as a teacher of English in the school. Eventually, with the help of Monsieur Paul Emanuel, another teacher at the school, she secures a school of her own. At the end of the novel, she anticipates marrying M. Paul.

Dr. John Graham Bretton

Dr. John Graham Bretton, called Dr. John, the son of Lucy’s godmother, now living in Villette. He is the kindhearted, handsome young physician who attends Madame Beck’s children. Lucy had known him earlier in her life as a mischievous boy who had little time for girls. His recognition of Lucy comes when he is summoned to revive her after she has fainted while leaving a church. For a time, romance seems about to flower between Lucy and Dr. John, but when Paulina de Bassompierre once more appears in the lives of the Brettons, Dr. John’s heart goes to her. At the end of the novel, Pauline and Dr. John marry.

Mrs. Bretton

Mrs. Bretton, John’s mother and Lucy’s godmother, a handsome and vivacious widow. She cares for Lucy after the child has been orphaned. Mrs. Bretton is most attentive to the details of domesticity, and her home and life testify to this interest. In Villette once more, she and her son care for Lucy.

Monsieur Paul Emanuel

Monsieur Paul Emanuel, Madame Beck’s cousin, the instructor in music and French at her school. Hot-tempered and passionate, he falls deeply in love with Lucy and hates to see her in the company of Dr. John. At the beginning of his interest in Lucy, he constantly admonishes her and tries to draw her out with his discussions. Later, his manner becomes less abrupt, and because of the consideration and tenderness he shows, she finally falls in love with him. Before he leaves for a three-year journey abroad, he makes arrangements to establish her in a school of her own. The two plan to marry when he returns.

Madame Beck

Madame Beck, a cold, dumpy looking, and self-controlled headmistress of a school for girls in Villette who hires Lucy Snowe to teach English. Always in possession of herself, Madame Beck is an outrageously curious person, snooping in Lucy’s desk and drawers whenever she feels the occasion warrants it and restlessly prowling, ghostlike, through the school at night. She, together with her relatives, tries to block the romance of Lucy and M. Paul, but her efforts are thwarted.

Paulina Mary Home de Bassompierre

Paulina Mary Home de Bassompierre (hohm deh bah-sohm-PYEHR), also called Polly Home, a beautiful and poised young lady who marries Dr. Bretton. She first appears in the story as a lonely, small girl called Paulina Home. Because her father, Mr. Home, is forced to...

(The entire section is 1326 words.)


(Beacham's Encyclopedia of Popular Fiction)

Naturally, Lucy Snowe is the most significant (and, in some ways, puzzling character, with her mixture of stoic endurance and fearful...

(The entire section is 618 words.)