The Brontë sisters are definitely the most popular sibling literary act out there. They have written some of the most influential and popular literary works of Victorian England. Their works have transcended the boundaries of time as they remain a seminal part of literary discourses in the contemporary. Of the three, Charlotte was the eldest (two of their older sisters have passed away when they were young). Charlotte once dreamed of putting up her own school, which led her and her younger sister Emily to travel to Brussels, Belgium to learn French and German. Her experiences in Brussels were the inspiration for the last of her novels to be published during her lifetime, Villette; The Professor was published posthumously in 1857. Villette was also a well of quotable quotes, some of which I have rounded up for this update.

Do check out my complete review of this literary work by clicking here.


“No mockery in this world ever sounds to me so hollow as that of being told to cultivate happiness. What does such advice mean? Happiness is not a potato, to be planted in mould, and tilled with manure. Happiness is a glory shining far down upon us out of Heaven. She is a divine dew which the soul, on certain of its summer mornings, feels dropping upon it from the amaranth bloom and golden fruitage of Paradise.”

~ Charlotte Brontë, Villette

“The love, born of beauty was not mine; I had nothing in common with it: I could not dare to meddle with it, but another love, venturing diffidently into life after long acquaintance, furnace-tried by pain, stamped by constancy, consolidated by affection’s pure and durable alloy, submitted by intellect to intellect’s own tests, and finally wrought up, by his own process, to his own unflawed completeness, this Love that laughed at Passion, his fast frenzies and his hot and hurried extinction, in this Love I had a vested interest; and whatever tended either to its culture or its destruction, I could not view impassibly.”

~ Charlotte Brontë, Villette

“Much I marvelled at the sagacity evinced by waiters and chamber-maids in proportioning the accommodation to the guest. How could inn-servants and ship-stewardesses everywhere tell at a glance that I, for instance, was an individual of no social significance, and little burdened by cash? They did know it evidently: I saw quite well that they all, in a moment’s calculation, estimated me at about the same fractional value. The fact seemed to me curious and pregnant: I would not disguise from myself what it indicated, yet managed to keep up my spirits pretty well under its pressure.

~ Charlotte Brontë, Villette

“All at once my position rose on me like a ghost. Anomalous, desolate, almost blank of hope, it stood. What was I doing here alone in great London? What should I do on the morrow? What prospects had I in life? What friends had I on earth? Whence did I come? Whither should I go? What should I do?

I wet the pillow, my arms, and my hair with rushing tears. A dark interval of bitter thought followed this burst; but I did not regret the step taken, nor wish to retract it. A strong, vague persuasion that it was better to go forward than backward, and that I could go forward – that a way, however narrow and difficult, would in time open – predominated over other feelings.”

~ Charlotte Brontë, Villette

“If there are words and wrongs like knives, whose deep inflicted lacerations never heal – cutting injuries and insults of serrated and poison-dripping edge – so, too, there are consolations of tone too fine for the ear not fondly and for ever to retain their echo: caressing kindnesses – loved, lingered over through a whole life, recalled with unfaded tenderness, and answering the call with undimmed shine, out of that raven cloud foreshadowing Death himself.”

~ Charlotte Brontë, Villette

“When I recall the tranquil, and even happy mood in which I passed those hours, and remember, at the same time, the position in which I was placed: its hazardous – some would have said its hopeless – character; I feel that, as ‘Stone walls do not a prison make/Nor iron bars–a cage’ so peril, loneliness, an uncertain future, are not oppressive evils, so long as the frame is healthy and the faculties are employed; so long, especially, as Liberty lends us her wings, and Hope guides us by her star.”

~ Charlotte Brontë, Villette

“This harsh little man — this pitiless censor — gathers up all your poor scattered sins of vanity, your luckless chiffon of rose- color, your small fringe of a wreath, your small scrap of ribbon, your silly bit of lace, and calls you to account for the lot, and for each item. You are well habituated to be passed by as a shadow in Life’s sunshine: it its a new thing to see one testily lifting his hand to screen his eyes, because you tease him with an obtrusive ray.”

~ Charlotte Brontë, Villette

“My reader, I know, is one who would not thank me for an elaborate reproduction of poetic first impressions; and it is well, inasmuch as I had neither time nor mood to cherish such; arriving as I did late, on a dark, raw, and rainy evening, in a Babylon and a wilderness, of which the vastness and the strangeness tried to the utmost any powers of clear thought and steady self-possession with which, in the absence of more brilliant faculties, Nature might have gifted me.”

~ Charlotte Brontë, Villette

“I think if Eternity held torment, its form would not be fiery rack, nor its nature, despair. I think that on a certain day amongst those days which never dawned, and will not set, an angel entered Hades — stood, shone, smiled, delivered a prophecy of conditional pardon, kindled a doubtful hope of bliss to come, not now, but at a day and hour unlooked for, revealed in his own glory and grandeur the height and compass of his promise: spoke thus — then towering, became a star, and vanished into his own Heaven. His legacy was suspense — a worse boon than despair.”

~ Charlotte Brontë, Villette

“Her eyes were the eyes of one who can remember; one whose childhood does not fade like a dream, nor whose youth vanish like a sunbeam. She would not take life loosely and incoherently, in parts, and let one season slip as she entered on another: she would retain and add; often review from the commencement, and so grow in harmony and consistency as she grew in years.”

~ Charlotte Brontë, Villette

“There is a perverse mood of the mind which is rather soothed than irritated by misconstruction; and in quarters where we can never be rightly known, we take pleasure, I think, in being consummately ignored. What honest man on being casually taken for a housebreaker does not feel rather tickled than vexed at the mistake?”

~ Charlotte Brontë, Villette

“The negation of severe suffering was the nearest approach to happiness I expected to know. Besides, I seemed to hold two lives – the life of thought, and that of reality; and provided the former was nourished with a sufficiency of the strange necromantic joys of fancy, the privilesges of the latter might remain limited to daily bread, hourly work, and a roof of shelter.”

~ Charlotte Brontë, Villette

“For a long time the fear of seeming singular scared me away; but by degrees, as people became accustomed to me and my habits, and to such shadows of peculiarity as were engrained in my nature – shades, certainly not striking enough to interest, and perhaps not prominent enough to offend, but born in and with me, and no more to be parted with than my identity – but slow degrees I became a frequenter of this straight narrow path.”

~ Charlotte Brontë, Villette

“Our natures own predilections and antipathies alike strange. There are people from whom we secretly shrink, whom we would personally avoid, though reason confesses that they are good people: there are others with faults of temper, etc., evident enough, beside whom we live content, as if the air about them did us good.”

~ Charlotte Brontë, Villette

“Whatever the cause, I could not meet his sunshine with cloud. If this were my last moment with him, I would not waste it in forced, unnatural distance. I loved him well – too well not to smite out of my path even Jealousy herself, when she would have obstructed a kind farewell. A cordial word from his lips, or a gentle look from his eyes, would do me good, for all the span of life that remained to me; it would be comfort in the last strait of loneliness; I would take it – I would taste the elixir, and pride should not spill the cup.”

~ Charlotte Brontë, Villette