Charlotte Bronte was a fucking genius.
I absolutely do not understand why she isn’t considered the best thing that ever happened in that century. All the romantics and fops and Victorians, all those social novelists and gothic romancers and religious moralists are left in the dust by this chick. She was the voice of her generation.
Reading Villette right now and I am just astonished at her powers as a novelist. Her fantastic descriptions of Lucy Snowe on drugs! It was disquietingly accurate and exciting to read. And Lucy Snowe’s tortured desire for a man she will never have, her continuous struggle to avoid emotions whilst being an extremely emotional person and that brilliant vacillation between depression and joy. I don’t think a more complete picture of a young woman struggling to survive in that time, or really, any time, has ever been drawn.
And she goes so much beyond a realist analysis of social structures.
Her writing is almost a kind of music at times, in that you know what it makes you feel, but when asked to describe how that process works, you draw a blank. It’s just the perfect symphony of deep emotions and phantasmagorical illusions.
And it’s really like my life. I don’t know if, reading Bronte novels even as a precocious teenager, I adapted the style of thinking of their protagonists, or if I was drawn to the sisters because we are of similar molds. I have that same sense of a vast and tumultuous inner life often unjustified by circumstances or stimulation. That same outer obscurity and that struggle with identity. To be a watcher of the world, and thus, safe and sound from extremes, both joys and harms? Or to participate in, and almost certainly be disappointed with, a world prepped with a thousand different knives to prick my soul and heart? This is the struggle all Charlotte’s heroines face, and so does Emily’s Katherine, in a way.
Some people might read this and think, what nonsense! Just get on with your life and the lot you’ve been given, and stop thinking so much about these inconsequential things which will only create further imaginary problems for you.
I congratulate you if you’re that person. You have found the off-switch I’ve been searching for ever since I began to think.
Or maybe I haven’t found that switch because I don’t really want to find it, because thinking and feeling is what makes me feel human. Feeling human is awesome at a very profound level, while also keeping you in misery a lot of the time.