"Jane Eyre," Vocabulary from Chapters 11-18

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 thorns and roses. 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. exult
    feel extreme happiness or elation
    “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.”
  2. stately
    refined or imposing in manner or appearance
    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.
  3. toil
    productive work, especially physical work done for wages
    Externals have a great effect on the young: I thought that a fairer era of life was beginning for me, one that was to have its flowers and pleasures, as well as its thorns and toils.
  4. vivacious
    vigorous and animated
    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.
  5. solicitude
    a feeling of excessive concern
    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.
  6. repine
    express discontent
    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 repined!
  7. quiescence
    a state of quiet (but possibly temporary) inaction
    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.
    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.
  8. genial
    diffusing warmth and friendliness
    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
  9. repartee
    adroitness and cleverness in reply
    “Mr. Rochester, allow me to disown my first answer: I intended no pointed repartee: it was only a blunder.”
    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).
  10. adventitious
    associated by chance and not an integral part
    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.
  11. palliate
    lessen or to try to lessen the seriousness or extent of
    “Yes, yes, you are right,” said he; “I have plenty of faults of my own: I know it, and I don’t wish to palliate them, I assure you.
  12. salubrious
    favorable to health of mind or body
    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.
  13. bane
    something causing misery or death
    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 bane.
  14. fallible
    wanting in moral strength, courage, or will
    “The human and fallible should not arrogate a power with which the divine and perfect alone can be safely intrusted.”
    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.
  15. lurid
    shining with an unnatural red glow
    ‘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!’
    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).
  16. undulate
    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.
  17. sardonic
    disdainfully or ironically humorous
    He was proud, sardonic, harsh to inferiority of every description: in my secret soul I knew that his great kindness to me was balanced by unjust severity to many others.
  18. morose
    showing a brooding ill humor
    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.
  19. assuage
    provide physical relief, as from pain
    I cannot deny that I grieved for his grief, whatever that was, and would have given much to assuage it.
  20. lugubrious
    excessively mournful
    I hardly know whether I had slept or not after this musing; at any rate, I started wide awake on hearing a vague murmur, peculiar and lugubrious, which sounded, I thought, just above me.
  21. fulminate
    cause to explode violently and with loud noise
    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.
    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."
  22. vindictive
    disposed to seek revenge or intended for revenge
    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.
  23. vex
    disturb the peace of mind of
    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.
  24. surfeit
    indulge (one's appetite) to satiety
    That a greater fool than Jane Eyre had never breathed the breath of life; that a more fantastic idiot had never surfeited herself on sweet lies, and swallowed poison as if it were nectar.
  25. ineffable
    defying expression or description
    And I took a rose from a vase and fastened it in her sash. She sighed a sigh of ineffable satisfaction, as if her cup of happiness were now full.
  26. poignant
    keenly distressing to the mind or feelings
    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.
  27. extirpate
    pull up by or as if by the roots
    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!
  28. sagacity
    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.
  29. meretricious
    deceptively pleasing
    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.
  30. insipid
    lacking taste or flavor or tang
    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 insipid.
    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.

Sign up, it's free!

Whether you're a student, an educator, or a lifelong learner, Vocabulary.com can put you on the path to systematic vocabulary improvement.