"Jane Eyre," Vocabulary from Chapters 6-10

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 here).

Learn this word list that focuses on learning at Lowood. Here are links to our lists for the novel: Chapters 1-5, Chapters 6-10, Chapters 11-18, Chapters 19-25, Chapters 26-30, Chapters 31-38

Activities for this list:

definitions & notes only words
  1. bewilder
    cause to be confused emotionally
    At first, being little accustomed to learn by heart, the lessons appeared to me both long and difficult; the frequent change from task to task, too, bewildered me
  2. animadversion
    harsh criticism or disapproval
    At that hour most of the others were sewing likewise; but one class still stood round Miss Scatcherd’s chair reading, and as all was quiet, the subject of their lessons could be heard, together with the manner in which each girl acquitted herself, and the animadversions or commendations of Miss Scatcherd on the performance.
    "Animadversion" has the Latin roots "animus" which means "mind" and "vertere" which means "to turn"--unlike Helen Burns, who seems to take both animadversions and commendations in the same graceful manner, Jane burns under harsh criticism or disapproval, especially if it's unjust. From her gentler mentor, Jane learns to handle adversity with more spiritual strength, without resentment and violence.
  3. forbearance
    good-natured tolerance of delay or incompetence
    I could not comprehend this doctrine of endurance; and still less could I understand or sympathise with the forbearance she expressed for her chastiser.
  4. meed
    a fitting reward
    Miss Temple is full of goodness; it pains her to be severe to any one, even the worst in the school: she sees my errors, and tells me of them gently; and, if I do anything worthy of praise, she gives me my meed liberally.
  5. expostulation
    an exclamation of protest or remonstrance or reproof
    One strong proof of my wretchedly defective nature is, that even her expostulations, so mild, so rational, have not influence to cure me of my faults; and even her praise, though I value it most highly, cannot stimulate me to continued care and foresight.
  6. assiduity
    great and constant diligence and attention
    when I should be listening to Miss Scatcherd, and collecting all she says with assiduity, often I lose the very sound of her voice; I fall into a sort of dream.
  7. habituate
    familiarize psychologically or physically
    My first quarter at Lowood seemed an age; and not the golden age either; it comprised an irksome struggle with difficulties in habituating myself to new rules and unwonted tasks.
    Since the tasks are "unwonted" ("out of the ordinary"), Jane needs to habituate herself to them. At first, the adjective "unwonted" seems to suggest "unwanted" (this is supported by the adjective "irksome" which means "so lacking in interest as to cause mental weariness"); but Jane soon declares "I would not now have exchanged Lowood with all its privations for Gateshead and its daily luxuries" and she ends up inhabiting Lowood for eight years.
  8. stalwart
    having rugged physical strength
    I can remember Miss Temple walking lightly and rapidly along our drooping line, her plaid cloak, which the frosty wind fluttered, gathered close about her, and encouraging us, by precept and example, to keep up our spirits, and march forward, as she said, “like stalwart soldiers.”
  9. render
    cause to become
    You are aware that my plan in bringing up these girls is, not to accustom them to habits of luxury and indulgence, but to render them hardy, patient, self-denying.
  10. edification
    uplifting enlightenment
    Should any little accidental disappointment of the appetite occur, such as the spoiling of a meal, the under or the over dressing of a dish, the incident ought not to be neutralised by replacing with something more delicate the comfort lost, thus pampering the body and obviating the aim of this institution; it ought to be improved to the spiritual edification of the pupils, by encouraging them to evince fortitude under temporary privation.
    According to Mr. Brocklehurst, temporary privation ("act of depriving someone of food or money or rights") leads to edification and fortitude ("strength of mind that enables one to endure adversity"). But the appearance of his wife and daughters in velvet, silk, and furs obviates ("do away with") his belief in the worthiness of this aim; it also emphasizes that his treatment of people are affected by their wealth--an attitude that Jane seeks to obviate through an education that edifies.
  11. judicious
    marked by the exercise of good judgment in practical matters
    A brief address on those occasions would not be mistimed, wherein a judicious instructor would take the opportunity of referring to the sufferings of the primitive Christians; to the torments of martyrs; to the exhortations of our blessed Lord Himself, calling upon His disciples to take up their cross and follow Him
  12. sobriety
    a manner that is serious and solemn
    “Madam,” he pursued, “I have a Master to serve whose kingdom is not of this world: my mission is to mortify in these girls the lusts of the flesh; to teach them to clothe themselves with shame-facedness and sobriety, not with braided hair and costly apparel; and each of the young persons before us has a string of hair twisted in plaits which vanity itself might have woven; these, I repeat, must be cut off; think of the time wasted, of—”
  13. shun
    avoid and stay away from deliberately
    You must be on your guard against her; you must shun her example; if necessary, avoid her company, exclude her from your sports, and shut her out from your converse.
  14. scrutinize
    look at critically or searchingly, or in minute detail
    Teachers, you must watch her: keep your eyes on her movements, weigh well her words, scrutinise her actions, punish her body to save her soul: if, indeed, such salvation be possible, for (my tongue falters while I tell it) this girl, this child, the native of a Christian land, worse than many a little heathen who says its prayers to Brahma and kneels before Juggernaut—this girl is—a liar!
  15. stagnate
    exist in a changeless situation
    she has sent her here to be healed, even as the Jews of old sent their diseased to the troubled pool of Bethesda; and, teachers, superintendent, I beg of you not to allow the waters to stagnate round her.
    "Stagnate" comes from the Latin noun "stagnum" which means "swamp"--this image of foul, stale, and unhealthy waters is suggested by Mr. Brocklehurst, in order to urge the teachers to protect the other students from getting contaminated by Jane. The chosen definition connects to Mr. Brocklehurst's desire to prove that the educational institution he's in charge of contributes to progress and development.
  16. impart
    bestow a quality on
    It was as if a martyr, a hero, had passed a slave or victim, and imparted strength in the transit.
  17. effluence
    the process of flowing out
    Helen Burns asked some slight question about her work of Miss Smith, was chidden for the triviality of the inquiry, returned to her place, and smiled at me as she again went by. What a smile! I remember it now, and I know that it was the effluence of fine intellect, of true courage
  18. approbation
    official approval
    Already I had made visible progress: that very morning I had reached the head of my class; Miss Miller had praised me warmly; Miss Temple had smiled approbation; she had promised to teach me drawing, and to let me learn French, if I continued to make similar improvement two months longer
  19. persevere
    be persistent, refuse to stop
    Teachers and pupils may look coldly on you for a day or two, but friendly feelings are concealed in their hearts; and if you persevere in doing well, these feelings will ere long appear so much the more evidently for their temporary suppression.
  20. vehement
    marked by extreme intensity of emotions or convictions
    Hush, Jane! you think too much of the love of human beings; you are too impulsive, too vehement; the sovereign hand that created your frame, and put life into it, has provided you with other resources than your feeble self, or than creatures feeble as you.
  21. propriety
    correct behavior
    Miss Temple had always something of serenity in her air, of state in her mien, of refined propriety in her language, which precluded deviation into the ardent, the excited, the eager: something which chastened the pleasure of those who looked on her and listened to her, by a controlling sense of awe; and such was my feeling now: but as to Helen Burns, I was struck with wonder.
  22. eloquence
    powerful and effective language
    Has a girl of fourteen a heart large enough, vigorous enough, to hold the swelling spring of pure, full, fervid eloquence?
  23. discourse
    an extended communication dealing with some particular topic
    Such was the characteristic of Helen’s discourse on that, to me, memorable evening; her spirit seemed hastening to live within a very brief span as much as many live during a protracted existence.
  24. construe
    make sense of; assign a meaning to
    but my amazement reached its climax when Miss Temple asked Helen if she sometimes snatched a moment to recall the Latin her father had taught her, and taking a book from a shelf, bade her read and construe a page of Virgil; and Helen obeyed, my organ of veneration expanding at every sounding line.
  25. tenacious
    good at remembering
    Thus relieved of a grievous load, I from that hour set to work afresh, resolved to pioneer my way through every difficulty: I toiled hard, and my success was proportionate to my efforts; my memory, not naturally tenacious, improved with practice; exercise sharpened my wits; in a few weeks I was promoted to a higher class; in less than two months I was allowed to commence French and drawing.
  26. alleviate
    provide physical relief, as from pain
    She was not, I was told, in the hospital portion of the house with the fever patients; for her complaint was consumption, not typhus: and by consumption I, in my ignorance, understood something mild, which time and care would be sure to alleviate.
  27. unfathomed
    situated at or extending to great depth
    And then my mind made its first earnest effort to comprehend what had been infused into it concerning heaven and hell; and for the first time it recoiled, baffled; and for the first time glancing behind, on each side, and before it, it saw all round an unfathomed gulf: it felt the one point where it stood—the present; all the rest was formless cloud and vacant depth; and it shuddered at the thought of tottering, and plunging amid that chaos.
    The image Jane uses is of a physical gulf that is very deep but her overall meaning surrounding "unfathomed" is synonymous to "unfathomable" ("impossible to come to understand"). Influenced by the effluence of Helen's fine intellect to the level of veneration ("a feeling of profound respect"), Jane cannot wrap her mind around the fact that her friend is dying. Although an orphan, Jane has not faced the reality of death before her arrival at Lowood.
  28. avail
    take or use
    I had the means of an excellent education placed within my reach; a fondness for some of my studies, and a desire to excel in all, together with a great delight in pleasing my teachers, especially such as I loved, urged me on: I availed myself fully of the advantages offered me.
  29. imbibe
    receive into the mind and retain
    I had imbibed from her something of her nature and much of her habits: more harmonious thoughts: what seemed better regulated feelings had become the inmates of my mind.
  30. comprehensive
    broad in scope
    “She is qualified to teach the usual branches of a good English education, together with French, Drawing, and Music” (in those days, reader, this now narrow catalogue of accomplishments, would have been held tolerably comprehensive).

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