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THE   BRONTES                       93
despite indifference from him or insufficient re-
sponse, would never have made Villette hinge on
the miseries of un-cared-for-ness and culminate in
the joy of reciprocated emotion ; her Lucy would
have been a warm-hearted, impetuous, unself-
conscious creature, more alive to the charms of
her fellow-creatures than acutely critical of their
defects. " Being in love," to Charlotte, was a
going out of her whole suppressed nature to some-
one unmistakably devoted to herself. She says
somewhere in Villette, speaking as Lucy, that
she could never resist the impulse to like anyone
who was kind to her - a very natural and touch-
ing admission - and the book is dominated by
that attitude. " Being in love " meant a blissful
state of freedom from tormenting comparisons
between her own appearance and pretty, lively,
fascinating girls like Ginevra Fanshawe, agonising
convictions that she, Charlotte, was so plain and
insignificant that no man who looked at her once
would ever willingly look at her again ; it meant
that her intellectual powers would be honoured,
her character valued; her long struggle to put
duty before inclination rewarded ; that dream of
being someone, achieving something, would be
realised, that peace from the terrors of loneliness,
and happiness and joy would come. " Being in
love" without invitation or, at least, without
encouragement, was not in Charlotte's power ;
she distrusted her fellow-creatures, and that
colossal inferiority complex which she called
" Reason " took her to task brutally and jeered
at her whenever the faintest hope glimmered in