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Villette is an 1853 novel by Charlotte Brontë. Villette was Charlotte Brontë's fourth novel. It was preceded by the posthumously published The Professor, her first, and then by Jane Eyre and Shirley.
Its main character, Lucy Snowe, travels abroad to teach in a boarding school in the fictional town of Villette, where she encounters a culture and religion different from her own, and falls in love with a man (Paul Emanuel) whom she cannot marry.
Her experiences result in a breakdown but eventually she achieves independence and fulfilment through running her own school. A substantial amount of the novel's dialogue is in the French language.
Its main themes include isolation, how such a condition can be borne, and the internal conflict brought about by social repression of individual desire.
Villette marked Charlotte's return to writing from a first-person perspective (that of Lucy Snowe); the technique she had used in Jane Eyre.
Villette was acknowledged by critics of the day as a potent and sophisticated piece of writing although it was criticised for "coarseness" and for not being suitably "feminine" in its portrayal of Lucy's desires.
Charlotte Brontë (1816-1855) was an English novelist and poet, the eldest of the three Brontë sisters who survived into adulthood, and whose novels have become classics of English literature.
Charlotte wrote her first novel, The Professor, which did not appear until after her death (it was first published in 1857), and began Jane Eyre, which, appearing in 1847, took the public by storm. It was followed by Shirley in 1849, and Villette in 1853.
The novels of Charlotte created a strong impression from start, their strength and originality have retained for them a high place in English fiction which is likely to prove permanent.
Charlotte became pregnant soon after her marriage in 1854 but her health declined rapidly. Charlotte died with her unborn child on 31 March 1855, aged 38.