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ConnieAnnKirk
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Volume 1: Chapt. 1-15 (No spoilers, please)

If you would like to discuss Volume 1 of the novel without reading spoilers about anything past Chapter 15, please post here.
 
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maude40
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Re: Volume 1: Chapt. 1-15 (No spoilers, please)

In chapter 1, Polly is introduced and I get the feeling she will be trouble. She is obviously older than her small stature leads us to believe. She is given a crib to sleep in but she is not a baby. She is probably acting out of her discomfort at being in a strange place but to me it feels like problems will be forthcoming. Yvonne
Melissa_W
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Re: Volume 1: Chapt. 1-15 (No spoilers, please)

[ Edited ]
To me, Polly seems like a very early version of the heroines from Fraces Hogson Burnett books - Mary Lennox and Sarah Crewe.  Spoiled, precocious, and imperious.  She seems overly feminized as well, sewing on the tiny scrap of handkerchief.

maude40 wrote:
In chapter 1, Polly is introduced and I get the feeling she will be trouble. She is obviously older than her small stature leads us to believe. She is given a crib to sleep in but she is not a baby. She is probably acting out of her discomfort at being in a strange place but to me it feels like problems will be forthcoming. Yvonne





Message Edited by pedsphleb on 03-31-2008 12:21 PM
Melissa W.
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maude40
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Re: Volume 1: Chapt. 1-15 (No spoilers, please)

I can't seem to put an age to Polly. Does anyone have a thought on this? After chapter  2 she still seems like the strangest little person. I have not read Frances Hogson Burnett's books. Maybe I need to so I can have an example for Polly. Thank you for your tip. Yvonne
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momgee
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Re: Volume 1: Chapt. 1-15 (No spoilers, please)

[ Edited ]
I think I read polly is 6 yrs old


Message Edited by momgee on 04-01-2008 05:20 PM
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dulcinea3
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Re: Volume 1: Chapt. 1-15 (No spoilers, please)

I think I may have read Burnett's books as a child, but don't really remember them.  However, I am quite familiar with various movie versions of The Secret Garden and A Little Princess (including my favorite Shirley Temple movie!).  I can see the similarity in character, particularly with Sarah Crewe.
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Re: Volume 1: Chapt. 1-15 (No spoilers, please)

[ Edited ]
Yes, and thanks, momgee.  Polly is 6, maude.  Lucy says this to her in Chapter 3 (p. 37 in the B&N Classics edition):
 
"...he [Graham] is a boy and you are a girl; he is sixteen and you are only six; his nature is strong and gay, and yours is otherwise."
 
~ConnieK


Message Edited by ConnieK on 04-03-2008 03:50 PM
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Re: Volume 1: Chapt. 1-15 (No spoilers, please)

I'm wondering if others are finding Bronte's prose easy to read?  I seem to sink right into it.  You forget when you haven't read her in awhile.........
 
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dulcinea3
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Re: Volume 1: Chapt. 1-15 (No spoilers, please)

What I'm finding is that Lucy Snowe is such an impassive observer.  We get very little of her own feelings and emotions; she seems to mostly just relate what she sees.  It's a first-person narrative, but it feels more like a third-person one.  I imagine this will change as the novel goes on, and perhaps we will see her feelings come out more and more.
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dulcinea3
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Re: Volume 1: Chapt. 1-15 (No spoilers, please)

At least Lucy is aware of this, and it is deliberate on her part:
 
Oh, my childhood! I had feelings: passive as I lived, little as I
spoke, cold as I looked, when I thought of past days, I _could_
feel. About the present, it was better to be stoical; about the
future--such a future as mine--to be dead.
And in catalepsy and a dead
trance, I studiously held the quick of my nature.

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Re: Volume 1: Chapt. 1-15 (No spoilers, please)

What do you all think of Bronte's style?  Are there any quotes that stand out to you in Volume 1?
 
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psychodragon
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Re: Volume 1: Chapt. 1-15 (No spoilers, please)

One quote that I found interesting was on page 63 (BN classics ed) Lucy says "Daydreams are delusions of the demon".  At this point in the book that pretty much seems to describe Lucy Snowe who is impassive and practical to an exacting degree.  It also makes me wondered if perhaps this attitude will change at all over the course of the novel because it is such a declarative line.
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Re: Volume 1: Chapt. 1-15 (No spoilers, please)

Dulcinea,

I agree that Lucy initially presents very impassive narration--telling the Bretton story from the position of a fly on the wall, almost. However, beneath this veneer of passivity (floating from the country to London and then from London to Villette after Miss Marchmont's death), Lucy manipulates people in ways to which she refuses to call attention in her narrative: once she arrives in Villette, she immediately displaces Mrs. Sweeny. Madame Beck tells M. Paul that she has already become "disgusted...with Mrs. Svini" [ch. 7] but it's also clear from the description of Mrs. Sweeny ("a coarse woman, heterogeneously clad in a broad
striped showy silk dress, and a stuff apron" [ch. 8]) that Lucy represents a step up from the Irishwoman in terms of class.

Lucy also puts her observations to good use. In "Madame Beck" [ch. 8] she gives a succinct summary of Mme. Beck's espionage mode of household operation. Although Lucy admits to the reader that she has developed these ideas over time, her awareness of Mme. Beck's methods indicates her willingness to respond as the situation develops. She moves very quickly from governess to English teacher, and acts to assert her classroom authority.

By giving us a Lucy who initially appeared so passive, and took so little role in her own narrative, however, Brontë attempts to lull the reader into a sense of complacency and disguises Lucy's imperialist actions (in displacing Mrs. Sweeny and in taking on the role of English teacher--although she learns French, she comes to Villette speaking only English). All of this thinking about the imperialist subtexts of the novel is just to provide one way of reading it--I'm looking forward to seeing Lucy's personality and feelings develop as well.



dulcinea3 wrote:
What I'm finding is that Lucy Snowe is such an impassive observer. We get very little of her own feelings and emotions; she seems to mostly just relate what she sees. It's a first-person narrative, but it feels more like a third-person one. I imagine this will change as the novel goes on, and perhaps we will see her feelings come out more and more.



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Banderas
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Re: Volume 1: Chapt. 1-15 (No spoilers, please)

Both from chapter 8, Madame Beck
 

'"she seemed to know that keeping girls in distrustful restraint, in blind ignorance, and under a surveillance that left them no moment and no corner for retirement, was not the best way to make them grow up honest and modest women; but she averred that ruinous consequences would ensue if any other method were tried "

I shudder at Mme Beck's pedagogy!

"Besides, I seemed to hold two lives--the life of thought, and that of reality; and, provided the former was nourished with a sufficiency of the strange necromantic joys of fancy, the privileges of the latter might remain limited to daily bread, hourly work, and a roof of shelter."

Lucy seems to understand herself pretty well, here. Don't we all lead two lives?

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Re: Volume 1: Chapt. 1-15 (No spoilers, please)

[ Edited ]
I don't really agree that Lucy deliberately displaced Mrs. Sweeney.  She just asked for a job, and Madame Beck happened to be displeased with Mrs. Sweeney, so she took the opportunity to replace her.  Lucy had no knowledge of the current situation when she asked Madame to employ her, so I don't think she was being manipulative.
 
Another thing I've noticed is that Lucy seems to be rather depressive, even to the point of suicidal thoughts.  She rather subtly reveals this at several times.
 
She seems to respond well to challenges.  When it was suggested that she teach English, she wanted to refuse, but when it was suggested that she might be afraid or not up to it, she changed her mind.  (Again, I don't think she manipulated anyone into offering her the post; it was thrust upon her, almost against her will.)  The same thing happened when M. Paul approached her to participate in the play.  I think it's a touch of obstinacy, in a way; she doesn't want to be seen as weak or incompetent, even when she doubts herself.  In both cases, once she accepted the new experience, she dove right in and made it on her own terms, though.  She quickly showed the girls she was not going to take their nonsense, and she also refused to wear a costume that she felt uncomfortable with, adapting it to suit herself.
 
What intrigues me is her fascination with Ginevra's beau, de Hamal.  At first I thought she was being sarcastic, especially when she mentioned that they could share the same gloves, but I really do think she finds him quite attractive.


Message Edited by dulcinea3 on 04-11-2008 05:17 PM
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Re: Volume 1: Chapt. 1-15 (No spoilers, please)

The quote that really stands out for me in Volume I, is the statement made by Ginevra Fanshawe on pp.164-165 of the B&N Classics edition. Ginevra tells Lucy "I believe you never were in love, and never will be, you don't know the feeling: and so much the better, for though you might have your own heart broken, no living heart will you ever break. Isn't it all true?"
 
This has been my perception of Lucy, especially the part about not knowing the feeling. Lucy seems to me to be disconnected from her feelings; she discusses the events but there's something missing in the telling of it.  She describes leaving home and the journey to Villette, but it seems more like a travelogue to me. I get the impression that Lucy's having so much happen in such a short time, that she hasn't had a chance to take it all in.  Ginevra's statement about Lucy is how I see Lucy at this point in the book.  
 
StellaBee 
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Re: Volume 1: Chapt. 1-15 (No spoilers, please)

Some things I've noticed about Volume 1:
 
Regarding the opening scences: The first part with the Brettons and little Polly is odd; seemingly unrelated to the rest of the book.  And Lucy Snow is barely "there" as a character.
 
Regarding Lucy's personality:  Lucy professes over and over again that she is disdainful of sentiment, removed from comraderie, expects very little out of life. Does the reader really believe she feels this way in her heart of hearts?  I suspect this is her defense mechanism -- to constantly curb desires for friends, love, comforts, etc.-- so as not to be disappointed. 
 
Lucy may be an "unreliable narrator." n'est pas?  We (later) find out she has withheld important information from us?  What else isn't she telling us?
 
Regarding Charlotte Bronte's writing style:  I agree it easy to sink into  (all the untranslated French notwithstanding) but still somehow romantic and gothic -- even though the story so far is about very pedestrian occurences, there are many haunting passages about the gardens, the moonlight, the weather, the dormitory at night, creepy Polly.
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Re: Volume 1: Chapt. 1-15 (No spoilers, please)



jhowell wrote:
 
Regarding Lucy's personality:  Lucy professes over and over again that she is disdainful of sentiment, removed from comraderie, expects very little out of life. Does the reader really believe she feels this way in her heart of hearts?  I suspect this is her defense mechanism -- to constantly curb desires for friends, love, comforts, etc.-- so as not to be disappointed. 

 
She does talk about this suppression of sentiment and not giving herself permission to hope, etc., quite a bit.  Enough to irritate me, anyway!:smileywink: Sometimes I just want to shake her!  To me, it smacks a bit of 'poor little me'.  I wonder what her childhood was like, and what happened.  She seems to sometimes suggest that her childhood was good, so whatever happened must have been very traumatic to make her this way.  I have my doubts that she will ever reveal more about her past, though.
 
I want to like Lucy, but she pushes me away about as much as she pushes away the other characters in the book.  I'm anxious to have something happen to excite her nature more.

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Re: Volume 1: Chapt. 1-15 (No spoilers, please)

I am on the fence regarding liking Lucy.  She is constantly downplaying herself and her expectations; but it is not necessarily because she is meek, unassuming, kindly -- She actually is quite judgemental, bordering on scathing in her private thoughts.  And she actually confidently handles herself when the need arises. . . So I don't know - I can't quite figure her out.  For now -- I have given her the benefit of the doubt and like and trust her as a narrator.
 
I have just assumed that Lucy lost her family to illness (TB) in a similar fashion as Charlotte Bronte lost hers -- I guess because all the blurbs say this is her "most autobiographical novel"  There was also some mention, if I am not mistaken, that Lucy was sent to stay with the Brettons early on due to a suspicion of some impending family calamity.  (Maybe when her sisters first fell ill, Charlotte was sent away for a time)  I think losing her family was such a devastation, that this is where she developed the coping stratedgy of never letting herself hope for love and happiness, lest it be lost.
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dulcinea3
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Re: Volume 1: Chapt. 1-15 (No spoilers, please)

Yes, I would definitely not call her kindly!  She is very opinionated and not too shy about speaking her mind under certain circumstances.  She is quite acerbic with Ginevra in particular, and I suspect she speaks that way with many of the girls when dealing with them.  She is also more courageous than you would think from the retiring way she acts.  To just go to London first, and then Europe, on her own, with no definite plans, takes a strong character.
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