Welcome! We are reading through Charlotte Bronte’s Villette this February and March. Feel free to jump in at any time. You can see our reading schedule and guidelines in the starting post. Feel free to leave your thoughts on this week’s reading or a link to your updates in the comments section!
Chapters: 26, 27, 28, 29, & 30
Today, instead of the usual summary thoughts for Villette week six, I asked Jacquline (@jackiemania) to do what she does best. Compare our characters to tea. So please enjoy this oh-so-fun way of looking at these characters whom we have spent the past six weeks with. Don’t be shy to tell us what you think… and don’t forget to add your own thoughts and links for week six of the reading! See you back here next week for week seven.
Or: An Exploration of the Characters in Villette Through My Obsession with Tea
Lucy, our singular narrator, is Lapsang Suchong tea. Lapsang is different from all other teas because the leaves are smoked over pine fires, which infuse them with a flavor similar to a campfire. I believe Lucy is just as unique; I haven’t experienced anyone in literature with her interesting mix of slightly pathological reserve, fierce intelligence, and great passion! Lapsang, and Lucy, are definitely acquired tastes. I remember the first time I had Lapsang I absolutely loathed it! A strong reaction is not uncommon. As I furthered my tea education, and slowly got into smokier and smokier teas, my appreciation grew. That being said, not every tea drinker grows to like Lapsang, and I dare say not all readers of Villette will ultimately like Lucy.
Dr. John Graham, our clueless romantic, is a tea bag! He is not as terrible as Lipton, but rather is a middling tea bag such as Twinings. What I am trying to say is, “Lucy! Despite the nice packaging and simplicity of brewing, there is much better tea out there!” Most tea bags are comprised of dust and fannings which have lost many of the essential oils that make teas distinctive and delicious. I would say the same of Dr. John. He looks good on paper (handsome and a doctor) but is superficial (Ginevra Fanshawe! Hello!). I feel that he has a false sense of entitlement and ego after assessing the quality of his ingredients. Ahem!
M. Paul Emanuel, our hotheaded professor with a soft side, is Keemun tea. Keemun is intense but sweet. The first time I drank it, all that I could taste were the strong, leathery, smoky, masculine notes. As I got to know it, its fruity, chocolatey, pleasing virtues were revealed. I feel the same is true for M. Paul. When he came into the story, I thought him a tyrant! Slowly but surely I started to see kindness and generosity in his character. Readers, you just wait and see what qualities are revealed by the end of Villette!
Ginevra Fanshawe, our pretty, shallow, sweet young thing, is Sakura Cherry Blossom Green tea. It’s very pretty and can taste lovely. Alas! You must be very careful with it, because being a green tea, it can turn bitter if brewed just a half minute over its steep time. It also does not hold up in hot water. You have to be careful because some manufacturers use cloying artificial flavoring, or sneak in hibiscus, that showy sweet/tart flower, to further flavor it and color the brewed tea pink. Many tea lovers believe that flavoring is used on teas to hide a lack of quality. Enough said!
Polly/Paulina, our woman-child, is white tea. White tea is obtained from the buds and young leaves of the tea plant. This tea has a delicate, subtle flavor. Some, such as myself, would say too delicate! I always feel like I am drinking lightly flavored warm water when I drink a white tea, just as when Polly is in a scene, I find her very bland. Her angelic love and devotion to the men in her life is just too good too be true. I derive no satisfaction from her representation of womanhood. Give me some Lapsang Suchong any day.
Are you a tea lover? Do any of the teas that you enjoy remind you of these characters in Villette? Are there characters that I didn’t include that you would like to assign a tea to? Do you think I was mean by calling Dr. John a tea bag? I’d love to hear your thoughts!
Who’s (Still) Reading Along:
A Bookish Way of Life
Fingers and Prose
The Sleepless Reader
Tahleen’s Mixed-Up Files
Polishing Mud Balls
She is Too Fond of Books
Coffee and a Book Chick
Savvy Verse & Wit
Readings and Things
Under the Boardwalk
The House of the Seven Tails
The Road Goes Ever Ever On
Grief Journey to Reading Journey
Join the Road
Lit and Life
Books and Chocolate
(If you are participating and I don’t have you on this list, please let me know. I did not include people who said ‘maybe’ so if you have changed your mind and are definitely reading along with us, let me know so I can add you. Also, if you are not going to be able to join us anymore please let me know and I will take you off the list. If you go for two weeks without sharing the link for your weekly update in my weekly update comments section, I will assume you are no longer participating and will take you off of the list. Thanks!)