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teenybuffalo, in discussing Charlotte Bronte's Villette, made this insightful remark comparing it to the Jane Eyre/Edward Rochester relationship:

"Lucy and Paul Emanuel have the same kind of abusive-relationship-played-for-laughs that Jane did with Mr. Rochester. In this iteration, I felt really uncomfortable with it, even as M. Paul reenacts a lot of the same bullshit Mr. Rochester tends to pull: he locks Lucy in the attic to learn her lines for a play, puts her in humiliating situations with third parties, finds fault with her character, plays head games, etc. The funny thing is that when Rochester and Jane Eyre go through this, I actually really enjoy it, because they do. They're both positively kinky about how much they like tormenting each other, and I never quite take it seriously when they call each other ugly and screw with each other's minds. With Villette, though, the fun has gone out of the game for the equivalent characters."

Jane and Edward are kinky! Hah, they are! I never thought about it like that, precisely, but it's totally true. They're kind of proto-BDSM, in a way--and actually, the same can be said for a lot of Brontean romances. (Oh hi, Cathy and Heathcliff; or do you two fall into actually-BDSM?)

Meanwhile, agreed about the utterly depressing nature of Villette. As commenters over there said, the novel is well worth reading--once. But Jane Eyre, oh, how many happy double-handfuls of times will we women read that one in our lives?



( 7 comments — Leave a comment )
Dec. 4th, 2011 06:24 am (UTC)
I stopped reading Villette as soon as I realized that M Paul was who she was going to end up with. UGH! I really didn't dig that. I can tell how much Rochester LOVES Jane (in his creepy, obsessive way) and there didn't seem to be any love in Villette. Blech.
Dec. 4th, 2011 05:41 pm (UTC)
For what it's worth (VILLETTE SPOILERS AHEAD), if memory serves, Lucy doesn't technically end up with M Paul--and it's supposed to be tragic that she doesn't, and indeed it reads rather depressing either way you look at it. But yeah, Jane and Rochester at least have the fun banter thing and actual love behind their mutual torture.
Dec. 5th, 2011 04:51 am (UTC)
You got out while the getting was good.
Dec. 5th, 2011 04:51 am (UTC)
I'm flattered that you wanted to quote this!

Honestly, ever since the first reading as a child, I've heard much of the conversation between Jane and Rochester as sheer camp. The actors in my head are delivering it all with very knowing looks in their eyes.
Dec. 6th, 2011 07:24 pm (UTC)
I thought it a quite fun insight, indeed. :) I picture the arch, knowing looks too, though somehow hadn't gotten all the way to seeing it as "kink," yet you could probably call nearly any Gothic romance kinky. I mean, surely they aren't to be taken entirely seriously?
Dec. 7th, 2011 06:34 am (UTC)
There's nothing proto- about Wuthering Heights; it's as blatantly BDSM as it could be in those days and still get published, at least in English.

I've never read Villette, though, and now I don't think I will - it sounds like it's at least halfway to being Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf.
Dec. 8th, 2011 12:10 am (UTC)
Heh--actually, I would say Wuthering Heights resembles Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf more closely, being nice and explosive in its emotional damage. Villette is of a much quieter type of damage, if I remember right. (It's been probably ten years since I read it.)
( 7 comments — Leave a comment )