Senior Honors Projects, 2020-current

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Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 4.0 License.

Date of Graduation




Document Type


Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts (BA)


Department of English


Annette R. Federico

Heidi L. Pennington


Villette, published in 1853, was Charlotte Brontë’s last novel. Brontë explores both narrative and religious complexities through her narrator, Lucy Snowe. Orphaned Lucy Snowe embarks on a new life in a predominantly Catholic country where her Protestant identity is challenged. Catholicism is presented as a temptation for Lucy. Brontë reveals Lucy’s story through her notable fictional autobiography structure, but Lucy Snowe complicates the relationship between narrator and reader. Lucy explicitly capitalizes on the structure of fictional autobiography, critiquing her narration and fostering a personal relationship with the reader.

This thesis analyzes the Catholic paradox in Charlotte Brontë’s Villette by simultaneously exploring its religious and its narrative complexities. Lucy Snowe is tempted by Catholicism but remains true to her Protestant identity. Yet, her fictional autobiography aligns with the Catholic sacrament of Confession. Lucy Snowe acts as the confessant, imposing the role of the confessor upon the reader.



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