Lucy Snowe, the narrator, a young English woman destitute and thrown upon the world. Like other Brontë heroines, she is educated and from the "gentle" class of society, but she is without money or family or friends, or even a happy childhood behind her.
Paulina Mary Home (later Home de Bassompierre), the distant relative of the Brettons who comes to visit during one of Lucy's stays at the house. She is younger than both Graham and Lucy, with a sensitive, coquettish, and emotionally needy personality.
John Graham Bretton (called Graham by Polly, Dr. John by the pensionnaires, Dr. Bretton by others), the son of Lucy's godmother Mrs. Bretton. He is a good-looking young man with auburn hair and an energetic and generally cheerful disposition. He also is a doctor in the town of Villette.
Lucy's godmother. The mother of John Graham Bretton. A tall, handsome, self-confident woman who dotes upon her only son.
Polly's father. A scientific man who had a failed marriage to Polly's mother. Later M. de Bassompierre, upon the inheritance of a title and estates.
Polly's long-dead mother. A vain beauty who indulged herself and neglected her child. After separating from Mr. Home, she died of a cold caught after a ball. Her first name was Ginevra, and she was a sister of Ginevra Fanshawe's mother. Ginevra Fanshawe was named for her.
A wealthy invalid lady who invites Lucy to be her paid nurse-companion.
The kindly old housekeeper, formerly a servant in Lucy Snowe's family home before the deaths of her family. Mrs. Barrett attempts to advise Lucy. While visiting Mrs. Barrett, Lucy gets the idea to seek her living abroad.
A fellow passenger on The Vivid during Lucy's crossing to France. She is a pupil at a school in the city of Villette. An exceedingly selfish young woman. Polly Home de Bassompierre's first cousin.
M. Paul Emanuel, a "master" (the name for male teacher) at Madame Beck's school. A cousin of Madame Beck.
The proprietress of the school in which Lucy becomes a teacher. A heartless though outwardly kindly and very capable woman.
A suitor of Ginevra Fanshawe. A name given to him by Ginevra to keep secret his identity. Isidore is Dr. John Bretton.
The nursery-governess of Madame Beck's three children after Lucy becomes a teacher. Their bonne d'enfants.
The eldest child of Madame Beck; a willful and destructive girl.
The middle child of Madame Beck; a sweet and honest child.
The youngest of Madame Beck's children.
The portresse at Madame Beck's school.
The Catholic, Jesuit priest of French origin who serves as Lucy's confessor and is instrumental in saving her when she collapses on the steps of a building in the Basse-Ville. He is M. Paul's old tutor, and he tries to convert Lucy to Catholicism.
Count De Hamal
The Colonel Count De Hamal, a young man of sleek and polished Continental appearance, is a suitor of Ginevra Fanshawe. He differs greatly in appearance and manner from Dr. John.
The handicapped girl whom Lucy cares for during the long vacation.
M. de Bassompierre
The new name of Mr. Home, after he inherits his dead family's title of Count and estates.
Zelie St. Pierre
A grasping, materialistic teacher at Madame Beck's. A Parisienne, she tries to become friends with Lucy, but Lucy rebuffs her.
The grandmother of M. Paul's dead fiance, Justine Marie. M. Paul supports her in a house on the Rue des Mages.
One of the maids in the house of Madame Beck. She has a particular fondness for Lucy.
Villette Questions and Answers
The Question and Answer section for Villette is a great
resource to ask questions, find answers, and discuss the novel.
Yes, in Chapters 14-16, the exact nature of Lucy's social status is explained. Brontë spells it out ("her degree was mine," in Chapter XVI). Though Mrs. Bretton dotes on and patronizes Lucy, their "degree" is equal. That...