Although Charlotte Brontë’s Villette (1853) is frequently interpreted as anti-Catholic, reconciliation between Catholic and Protestant plays a pivotal role in the novel, as Lucy Snowe’s perspective evolves from narrow sectarianism to a more open stance. Brontë accomplishes this reconciliation by elucidating the differences at their deepest level: at the point where Protestantism challenges and ultimately evolves into a separate set of institutions from Catholicism. Drawing on Charles Taylor’s A Secular Age, this paper argues that, in its advocacy of the possibility of deep faith combined with religious pluralism, Villette anticipates modern secularism in the best sense of the word.
Clarke, MM. "Charlotte Brontë’s Villette, Mid-Victorian Anti-Catholicism, and the Turn to Secularism." ELH: English Literary History 78(4), 2011.
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