Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Lucy Snowe & Hamlet & Agency

Long, long ago (that is, nearly four years ago), I posted on how I identified with certain of Hamlet's traits. He has long and rambling emotional thoughts, but is slow to action--call it a fault or simply his nature, as you will. But now I'm thinking of another character who makes things more complicated than they necessarily need to be.

Lucy Snowe of Villette.

She is another literary character I should hesitate to admit I identify with, but oh, how wonderfully are her thoughts and struggles described. This book makes me weep, mentally. But on to my comparison. Lucy doesn't have a direct order/object she is hesitating to carry out, but she is searching for something on her own. Lucy wants friendship, companionship, love--a full life, if you will. She succeeds financially, but her attainment of love and communion are achingly temporary. While Lucy didn't drive M. Paul away like Hamlet did to Ophelia, she did lose him. And her friendship with Dr. John essentially faded, or faded from what it could have been--if Lucy had seized action a little more. Lucy has a terribly low self-esteem, something I'm glad to say I don't share. She's unlike Hamlet in this regard: Hamlet thinks over all his doubts, but he's also so quick-minded that his problems with himself aren't Lucy's.

I guess that's why both these characters have generated so much analysis--and mixed feelings. Villette is sometimes called ahead of its time (which I completely agree with), but we do know that Charlotte read Shakespeare. Do you think perhaps Hamlet affected Lucy Snowe, or would that statement be stretching?

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