When Lucy Stowe boards a ship to travel to Villette, she is asked "Are you fond of a sea-voyage" by (the yet to be known) Ms. Fanshaw. Since this was Lucy's first trip abroad, she answers that her fondness is yet to be experienced. Nonetheless, Lucy's partiality for the sea is evident throughout the novel. She illustrates her past with a myriad of nautical metaphors and imageries of water that suggests a spiritual connection to the sea. This connection appears to derive from water being the main form of traveling during the 19th Century; and travel through life's experiences is what we do. Life is heeded as a journey, so Lucy therefore, is a vessel that endures the tumultuous waters of life's social stigmas and the stresses of familial relationships, or the calm waters of life's pleasures.
Lucy uses the metaphor of sea travel to demonstrate her familial relationship with Mrs. Bretton; as comparison between a traditional matriarch, and a modern independent lady. She says, "The difference between her and me might be figured by that between the stately ship, cruising safe of smooth seas, with it's full complement of crew, a captain gay and brave". She refers to Ms. Bretton's allegorically as a person of means. She has a full crew that supports her needs and a captain to guide her; respectfully these terms could allude to the acceptance and support within the social or familial structure as a widow of a wealthy, respected man. The captain could be an allusion to her son, who even in the adverse circumstances after the loss of their fortune still had him to support her comfortably enough. Lucy goes further to say, "the Luisa Bretton never was out of harbor on such a night; her crew could not conceive it." This further signifies that as one ship relates to another, Mrs. Bretton was a woman supported by her social and familial status, and real hardship is unknown to her.