There was a time, over a decade ago now, when I disliked love stories, and regarded romantic scenes and in particular, kisses, with cynical scorn. To be honest I still feel a little funny about them, even if I do sometimes like them. But since it is Valentine’s day, that routine bathos of giddy romance, here are what I think are the very best kiss scenes from Charlotte Bronte’s novels.
From Shirley, Robert Moore To Caroline Helstone:
She mutely offered a kiss—an offer taken unfair advantage of, to the extortion of about a hundred kisses.
From The Professor, William Crimsworth and Frances Henri:
“You speak God’s truth,” said I at last, “and you shall have your own way, for it is the best way. Now, as a reward for such ready consent, give me a voluntary kiss.”
After some hesitation, natural to a novice in the art of kissing, she brought her lips into very shy and gentle contact with my forehead; I took the small gift as a loan, and repaid it promptly, and with generous interest.
I don’t think Villette actually contains any kissing, so I went with the closest equivalent, when Lucy Snowe learns that Paul Emmanuel does, in fact, like the way she looks.
“Ah! I am not pleasant to look at——?”
I could not help saying this; the words came unbidden: I never remember the time when I had not a haunting dread of what might be the degree of my outward deficiency; this dread pressed me at the moment with special force.
He stopped, and gave me a short, strong answer; an answer which silenced, subdued, yet profoundly satisfied. Ever after that I knew what I was for him; and what I might be for the rest of the world, I ceased painfully to care.
And, of course, from Jane Eyre
It is my spirit that addresses your spirit; just as if both had passed through the grave, and we stood at God’s feet, equal,—as we are!”
“As we are!” repeated Mr. Rochester—“so,” he added, enclosing me in his arms. Gathering me to his breast, pressing his lips on my lips: “so, Jane!”
Happy Valentine’s Day.