Charlotte Bronte's Villette is the story of Lucy Snowe. After leading a rather tragic life, initially dominated by repression and loneliness, Lucy has taken it upon herself to write her memoirs, and give her personal testament. Standing at the dusk of her life she is able to look back and provide an objective account of herself and those significant in her rather unusual life. Her writings are dominated by the use of natural imagery, which are used by Lucy to portray the personalities, feelings and emotions of her those around her. The imagery, and the relationship with nature it implies, is also an important barometer of Lucy's own reactions to the situations in which she finds herself. .
As narrator, Lucy Snowe frequently uses animal imagery, to describe other people. The frivolous and vain Ginevra Fanshawe is initially likened to a "hummingbird" and a "butterfly", but as Lucy grows less tolerant towards her, she is presented as a "mealy-winged moth". Polly, perching on the end of her bed, is described as a "white bird", although Lucy also thinks of her as possessing the "supple softness" and "velvet grace" of a kitten. Mme. Beck's furtive ways are compared to those of a "cat", but Lucy will later say that she is as "strict as a dragon". The bestial qualities ascribed to these characters give a sense of Lucy's true feelings towards them as well as being indicative of her affinity with nature. .
Throughout the course of the novel it is a common to find that Lucy is more at home with than people. In the first half of the novel, images of nature are frequently employed to emphasize Lucy's solitude; indeed is seems that Lucy's bonds with nature provide her with much more strength than those she makes with people. After the death of Miss Marchmont, sees the Aurora Borealis, the "solemn stranger" which will give Lucy "new power" from which she is able to draw in energy. Later on in the work, Lucy will linger in the garden of the pensionnat to keep tryst with the moon, or to "taste one kiss of the evening breeze or fancy rather than feel the freshness of dew descending.