Charlotte Bronte's heroine "Jane Eyre" defies the stereotype of the docile Victorian woman and shines as a fully realized person who jumps off the page at a time when women were often portrayed as one-dimensional characters (etext found
“She treats me like a visitor,” thought I. “I little expected such a reception; I anticipated only coldness and stiffness: this is not like what I have heard of the treatment of governesses; but I must not
exult too soon.”
refined or imposing in manner or appearance; befitting a royal court
I sometimes regretted that I was not handsomer; I sometimes wished to have rosy cheeks, a straight nose, and small cherry mouth; I desired to be tall,
stately, and finely developed in figure; I felt it a misfortune that I was so little, so pale, and had features so irregular and so marked.
She made reasonable progress, entertained for me a
vivacious, though perhaps not very profound, affection; and by her simplicity, gay prattle, and efforts to please, inspired me, in return, with a degree of attachment sufficient to make us both content in each other’s society.
I felt a conscientious
solicitude for Adèle’s welfare and progress, and a quiet liking for her little self: just as I cherished towards Mrs. Fairfax a thankfulness for her kindness, and a pleasure in her society proportionate to the tranquil regard she had for me, and the moderation of her mind and character.
What good it would have done me at that time to have been tossed in the storms of an uncertain struggling life, and to have been taught by rough and bitter experience to long for the calm amidst which I now
a state of quiet (but possibly temporary) inaction
The quiescence does not signify Jane's acquiescence ("acceptance without protest"). Instead, it gives Jane time to observe, wonder, and figure out how to respond. Similar to how "the frown, the roughness of the traveller, set me at my ease" (before she knew the traveller was her employer), Mr. Rochester's deliberate ignoring of her presence intrigues her.
A reception of finished politeness would probably have confused me: I could not have returned or repaid it by answering grace and elegance on my part; but harsh caprice laid me under no obligation; on the contrary, a decent
quiescence, under the freak of manner, gave me the advantage.
He was, in short, in his after-dinner mood; more expanded and
genial, and also more self-indulgent than the frigid and rigid temper of the morning; still he looked preciously grim, cushioning his massive head against the swelling back of his chair, and receiving the light of the fire on his granite-hewn features, and in his great, dark eyes
Jane is not entirely truthful here, because she enjoys repartee, as Mr. Rochester observes: "when one asks you a question, or makes a remark to which you are obliged to reply, you rap out a round rejoinder, which, if not blunt, is at least brusque" ("repartee" and "rejoinder" are synonymous in the two sentences, but usually, "repartee" refers to an entire witty conversation while "rejoinder" is a specific reply).
“Mr. Rochester, allow me to disown my first answer: I intended no pointed
repartee: it was only a blunder.”
I am sure most people would have thought him an ugly man; yet there was so much unconscious pride in his port; so much ease in his demeanour; such a look of complete indifference to his own external appearance; so haughty a reliance on the power of other qualities, intrinsic or
adventitious, to atone for the lack of mere personal attractiveness, that, in looking at him, one inevitably shared the indifference, and, even in a blind, imperfect sense, put faith in the confidence.
All right then; limpid,
salubrious: no gush of bilge water had turned it to fetid puddle. I was your equal at eighteen—quite your equal. Nature meant me to be, on the whole, a good man, Miss Eyre; one of the better kind, and you see I am not so.
Only one thing, I know: you said you were not as good as you should like to be, and that you regretted your own imperfection;—one thing I can comprehend: you intimated that to have a sullied memory was a perpetual
wanting in moral strength, courage, or will; having the attributes of man as opposed to e.g. divine beings
The verb "arrogate" means "seize and take control without authority" or "make undue claims to having" and it has the same Latin root as "arrogant" ("rogare" means "to ask" which neither word does)--Jane deliberately uses this verb to imply that Mr. Rochester is being arrogant in assuming that he can declare that his actions, strange as they may be, are right. Only God, who is infallible, can make that judgment.
“The human and
fallible should not arrogate a power with which the divine and perfect alone can be safely intrusted.”
shining with an unnatural red glow as of fire seen through smoke
The example sentence uses "lurid" to describe the physical appearance of Mr. Rochester's imagined hieroglyphics about his destiny, but the adjective also means "horrible in fierceness or savagery" (which alludes to the nature of Mr. Rochester's secret) and "glaringly vivid and graphic; marked by sensationalism" (which, along with the chosen definition, foreshadows discovery and destruction).
‘You like Thornfield?’ she said, lifting her finger; and then she wrote in the air a memento, which ran in
lurid hieroglyphics all along the house-front, between the upper and lower row of windows, ‘Like it if you can! Like it if you dare!’
move in a wavy pattern or with a rising and falling motion
When I saw my charmer thus come in accompanied by a cavalier, I seemed to hear a hiss, and the green snake of jealousy, rising on
undulating coils from the moonlit balcony, glided within my waistcoat, and ate its way in two minutes to my heart’s core.
He was moody, too; unaccountably so; I more than once, when sent for to read to him, found him sitting in his library alone, with his head bent on his folded arms; and, when he looked up, a
morose, almost a malignant, scowl blackened his features.
The Latin "fulminare" means "to strike with lightning"--this doesn't quite fit the image of Mr. Rochester's anathemas ("curse" or "vehement denunciation"), which are harmlessly spouted at no one in particular. Ironically, Mr. Rochester fulminates at the moment that an actual fire on him is quenched; and later, he sadly declares that "I am no better than the old lightning-struck chestnut-tree."
Though it was now dark, I knew he was awake; because I heard him
fulminating strange anathemas at finding himself lying in a pool of water.
It was strange: a bold,
vindictive, and haughty gentleman seemed somehow in the power of one of the meanest of his dependants; so much in her power, that even when she lifted her hand against his life, he dared not openly charge her with the attempt, much less punish her for it.
disturb the peace of mind of; afflict with mental agitation or distress
It little mattered whether my curiosity irritated him; I knew the pleasure of
vexing and soothing him by turns; it was one I chiefly delighted in, and a sure instinct always prevented me from going too far; beyond the verge of provocation I never ventured; on the extreme brink I liked well to try my skill.
I looked, and had an acute pleasure in looking,—a precious yet
poignant pleasure; pure gold, with a steely point of agony: a pleasure like what the thirst-perishing man might feel who knows the well to which he has crept is poisoned, yet stoops and drinks divine draughts nevertheless.
I had not intended to love him; the reader knows I had wrought hard to
extirpate from my soul the germs of love there detected; and now, at the first renewed view of him, they spontaneously arrived, green and strong!
the trait of forming opinions by distinguishing and evaluating
Yes; the future bridegroom, Mr. Rochester himself, exercised over his intended a ceaseless surveillance; and it was from this
sagacity—this guardedness of his—this perfect, clear consciousness of his fair one’s defects—this obvious absence of passion in his sentiments towards her, that my ever-torturing pain arose.
I have seen in his face a far different expression from that which hardens it now while she is so vivaciously accosting him; but then it came of itself: it was not elicited by
meretricious arts and calculated manoeuvres; and one had but to accept it—to answer what he asked without pretension, to address him when needful without grimace—and it increased and grew kinder and more genial, and warmed one like a fostering sunbeam.
The example sentence compares Mr. Rochester's sarcasm and harshness to pungent spices for food, so the chosen definition fits the analogy, while the alternative definition ("lacking interest or significance or impact") both describes what a different man would seem like to Jane and what her life would feel like if she were to lose Mr. Rochester.
The sarcasm that had repelled, the harshness that had startled me once, were only like keen condiments in a choice dish: their presence was pungent, but their absence would be felt as comparatively