Wilted Petals that Loved: Flowers and Humanity in Charlotte Brontë’s Villette

  • Colleen Bidner University of Victoria


This essay discusses scenes in Charlotte Brontë’s Villette (1853) that involve flowers and the relationship between Lucy Snowe and Monsieur Paul Emmanuel. Their romance demonstrates how Brontë shines a light on the humanity of women when mid-Victorian society values their physical appearance and housewife skills. The relationship demonstrates human connection and mortality through the following: offering gifts more meaningful than a bouquet; security through the house that Monsieur Paul gives Lucy for her career; and Biblical origins of man and woman. Lucy achieves autonomous security due to their connection, making her a model for women in Brontë’s desired society.