The story of Villette is told in flashback by Lucy Snowe, who tells of the trials of her young self first in England, and then in Belgium. Charlotte Bronte does not paint a romantic picture of an unsupported woman's life ? her heroine has to endure straitened circumstances, insecurity and humiliation. However, despite everything that happens to her, Lucy is a warm and courageous character who makes the most of the opportunities that occur. The love and fulfilment which are readily available to her younger, prettier and richer charges are not quite outside her reach, but it is clear to the reader that for her to achieve them cannot be easy.