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Posts: 5,472
Registered: ‎06-14-2007
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When Lucy Addresses the Reader

[ Edited ]
Lucy Snowe, the narrator and main character in Villette, frequently addresses the reader directly.  Does this snap you out of the narrative, the story "she" is telling, or does this technique work some effect that you think is helpful to the believability, or some other aspect, of the story?  I admit, for me, it makes me suddenly aware of Lucy's "notice" of me as a reader.  I'm not sure what I think of it yet, other than I do tend to stop reading for just a second when "she"/Bronte addresses "me" (as a reader) so directly.  It's like an actor in a film suddenly turning to look directly into the camera and speaking to the audience.  It makes the audience part of the story--but to what effect?
What do you think?

Message Edited by ConnieK on 04-13-2008 07:51 PM

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Posts: 9
Registered: ‎04-13-2008
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Re: When Lucy Addresses the Reader

It is a little jarring to be addressed as "reader" during a novel.  I can think of only a few novels that have done this that I've read -- most notably George Eliot in Middlemarch.  I think Eliot and the Bronte's were writing around the same time frame.  Maybe it was "in" then.  I think it makes you almost a co-conspirator with the narrator -- puts you firmly on her side of the events, yet inviting you to judge her reactions and actions. I guess it works for me -- I don't mind the technique.
As this is "below the line" I guess it is OK to mention a SPOILER     ------------  the first time I really noticed her addressing us is when Lucy lets on she knew who Dr. John was from the very beginning.  Why, I wonder, does Bronte have Lucy keep this from us?  Is it simply just to serve dramatic tension or is it somehow manipulating this relationship between "the reader" and the narrator.  Do we trust Lucy?  I am on the fence here.  Is she really as self-effacing as she would have us believe? 
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Posts: 4,389
Registered: ‎10-19-2006
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Re: When Lucy Addresses the Reader

I guess I must have read a number of novels that use that device, because it seems quite natural to me and I hardly notice it.  I know Bronte used it in Jane Eyre, too.
I hope you don't mind, Jen, but I think I'm going to quote your second paragraph in the thread for the second section, so that we can discuss this aspect more.
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