AN #9: Marie

In the Life of Charlotte Bronte, Charlotte Bronte writes of a teacher called Mademoiselle Marie whom she met while studying in Brussels.

Mademoiselle Marie is talented and original, but of repulsive and arbitrary manners, which have made the whole school, except myself and Emily, her bitter enemies.

In Villette, Lucy Snowe writes of a cretin called Marie Broc, whom she was forced to nurse during the summer holidays. Marie Broc is said to be malevolent trouble-maker who delights in making everyone unhappy. Later on she speaks to M. Paul about Marie Broc:

Marie Broc was well known to M. Paul; he never gave a lesson in the third division (containing the least advanced pupils), that she did not occasion in him a sharp conflict between antagonistic impressions. Her personal appearance, her repulsive manners, her often unmanageable disposition, irritated his temper, and inspired him with strong antipathy; a feeling he was too apt to conceive when his taste was offended or his will thwarted. On the other hand, her misfortunes, constituted a strong claim on his forbearance and compassion — such a claim as it was not in his nature to deny; hence resulted almost daily drawn battles between impatience and disgust on the one hand, pity and a sense of justice on the other; in which, to his credit be it said, it was very seldom that the former feelings prevailed …

Both women share the same first name. Is it a coincidence? It is true that Marie is a common name, but I thought it would be interesting to combine elements from both characters – a person of repulsive manners who antagonises most and yet gains sympathy from a main character.  In blog!Lucy, I have chosen to make Lucy initially sympathetic to Marie, now reincarnated as Marie Chen. Marie Broc is important in Villette, because she is how Lucy might degrade into – at least, Lucy doesn’t like to be grouped with a cretin instead of an ordinary human being. I’m not sure what exactly a cretin is, so do enlighten me.


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