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Literary Precedents for Villette

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Literary Precedents

As with Jane Eyre, the phenomenon of a woman telling of the vicissitudes and feelings of her past has a long history, with Moll Flanders (by Daniel Defoe, 1722) being the most popular early example.

However, the plot scheme of a relatively helpless woman pitting herself against a hard world became a repeated formula of writers in England and in France (for instance, Zola's Nana, 1880). Two later examples of female novelists who dealt with the problems of women in society are Fanny Burney in Evelina (1778) and, more notably, Jane Austen, whose Mansfield Park (1814) contains the only Austen heroine who is actually poor: Fanny Price must work and must deal with uncomfortable circumstances, yet she is a rounded and resolute (so far as her circumstances permit) character. Echoes of her may be found in Bronte's female characters.

For further discussion, refer to this section in the entry on Jane Eyre...

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This section contains 152 words
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Purchase our Villette Study Guide
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Villette from BookRags and Gale's For Students Series. ©2005-2006 Thomson Gale, a part of the Thomson Corporation. All rights reserved.
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