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Saturday, July 24, 2010

Paul Emanuel

Volume Three begins with an exposition of Paul Emanuel.  He has been a curious figure, susceptible to fits of rage, particularly toward Lucy, but Bronte begins to expound on his character.  Lucy repeatedly calls him "little man," though his small stature does not prevent him from giving verbal lashings.  Lucy is a repeated victim of these fulminations and she remains cool to these attacks, though at times she demonstrates passionate responses.  This passionate side Lucy fights against showing, but M. Paul succeeds in getting her to show it and then relents in his anger:

He now thought he had got the victory, since he had made me angry.  In a second he became good-humoured (Ch. 29).

M. Paul enjoys making Lucy mad and showing a side she does not want to show.  Lucy presents herself as an emotion-less person, such as early in the novel when she states, "I, Lucy Snowe, was calm" (Ch. 3).  Miss Snowe presents an "cold exterior" but Lucy (lucent) is a person with a controlled hot interior.

"I don't know whether he [M. Paul] felt hot and angry, but I am free to confess that I did (Ch. 29).

M. Paul is the only person who has been able to penetrate Lucy's external coldness and see that she has a suppressed passionate nature.  He does not like a suppression of the true self:

No calamity so accursed but M. Emanuel could pity and forgive, if it were acknowledged candidly; but where his questioning eyes met dishonest denial--where his ruthless researches found deceitful concealment--oh, then, he could be cruel, and I thought wicked! he would exultantly snatch the screen from poor shrinking wretches, passionately hurry them to the summit of the mount of exposure, and there show them all naked, all false--poor living lies--the spawn of that horrid Truth which cannot be looked on unveiled. He thought he did justice (Ch. 29).

Lucy does not like the penetration of her thoughts, but she appreciates his devotion to being true to oneself.  On the occasion of M. Paul's fête, she forgoes the Labassecourienne tradition of presenting flowers because it does not appeal to her:

I only had no bouquet. I like to see flowers growing, but when they are gathered, they cease to please. I look on them as things rootless and perishable; their likeness to life makes me sad. I never offer flowers to those I love; I never wish to receive them from hands dear to me (Ch. 29).

Lucy's absence of a bouquet upsets M. Paul, but he later accepts her gift, a watchguard she made for him:

It is well--you do right to be honest. I should almost have hated you had you flattered and lied. Better declare at once 'Paul Carl Emanuel--je te déteste, mon garçon!'--than smile an interest, look an affection, and be false and cold at heart. False and cold I don't think you are; but you have made a great mistake in life, that I believe; I think your judgment is warped--that you are indifferent where you ought to be grateful--and perhaps devoted and infatuated, where you ought to be cool as your name. Don't suppose that I wish you to have a passion for me, Mademoiselle; Dieu vous en garde! What do you start for? Because I said passion? Well, I say it again. There is such a word, and there is such a thing--though not within these walls, thank heaven! You are no child that one should not speak of what exists  (Ch. 29).

M. Paul likes Lucy and wants her to be true to herself and not feel the need to hide from him.  For this reason, though he liked the pink dress she wore, he does not like it on her:

And, even after M. Paul had reached the door, he turned back just to explain, "that he would not be understood to speak in entire condemnation of the scarlet dress" ("Pink! pink!" I threw in); "that he had no intention to deny it the merit of  looking rather well" (the fact was, M. Emanuel's taste in colours decidedly leaned to the brilliant); "only he wished to counsel me, whenever, I wore it, to do so in the same spirit as if its material were 'bure,' and its hue 'gris de poussière' (Ch. 28).

Ultimately Lucy does not mind this scrutiny, just as she did not mind Madame Beck's intrusive espionage methods.  Once she understands his reasoning, she is not bothered by him:  "I did not dislike Professor Emanuel" (Ch. 29).  And M. Paul wants her to like him:  "You ought to treat Professor Paul Emanuel decently" (Ch. 29).  Lucy is refreshed after a disagreement by the thought of the coming reconciliation:  "Reconcilement is always sweet"  (Ch. 30).  Finally, despite all the battle, there is an understanding developing between the two.

The above painting is a copy of a self -portrait of Lord Leighton (1880) by Paolo Fossi.

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