This thesis argues that there are parallels between the situation of women today and Lucy Snowe in Charlotte Brontë’s novel Villette (1853). Based on reception studies, feminist theory and an historically informed close reading of the novel, my ambition has been to explore how Villette has been received by Victorian and 20th-century critics, as well as to examine the text-internal factors that may have contributed to the novel’s continued appeal. In addition to this I have wanted to understand how it is being read today. Although readers’ horizons of expectation have changed since Villette was published, many features of the reception remain conspicuously similar. The novel’s reception shows that the predicament women have found themselves in as ‘the Other’ remains fundamentally stable. Due to new digital resources that give access to ordinary readers’ responses, this thesis presents fresh insights into the modern readers’ experiences of reading Villette. This thesis argues that the novel provides a female perspective that women in particular can relate to: they are able to identify with Lucy’s double and ambiguous self in their own battle for self-definition.