"Jane Eyre," Vocabulary from Chapters 19-25

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 fortunes. 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. mete
    a line that indicates a boundary
    Your fortune is yet doubtful: when I examined your face, one trait contradicted another. Chance has meted you a measure of happiness: that I know. I knew it before I came here this evening. She has laid it carefully on one side for you.
    Although the words "carefully on one side" suggest the idea of a boundary, "mete" is used as a verb here to show that the personified Chance had chosen "to distribute" a measure of happiness for Jane to stretch out her hand and claim. But to do so at this point would require crossing moral, legal, and social boundaries.
  2. lassitude
    a feeling of lack of interest or energy
    The flame flickers in the eye; the eye shines like dew; it looks soft and full of feeling; it smiles at my jargon: it is susceptible; impression follows impression through its clear sphere; where it ceases to smile, it is sad; an unconscious lassitude weighs on the lid: that signifies melancholy resulting from loneliness.
  3. propitious
    presenting favorable circumstances
    Mobile and flexible, it was never intended to be compressed in the eternal silence of solitude: it is a mouth which should speak much and smile often, and have human affection for its interlocutor. That feature too is propitious.
    The fortune-teller seems to be practicing physiognomy ("the art of appraising character or personality from facial features"--often in connection with a divination of the individual's future). But the points being made are partly observations Mr. Rochester had gathered during his talks with Jane, and they are partly his testing of her feelings for him and the possibility of a shameful union.
  4. feigned
    not genuine
    I knew gipsies and fortune-tellers did not express themselves as this seeming old woman had expressed herself; besides I had noted her feigned voice, her anxiety to conceal her features.
  5. transfix
    render motionless because of surprise, terror, or awe
    Well, you too have power over me, and may injure me: yet I dare not show you where I am vulnerable, lest, faithful and friendly as you are, you should transfix me at once.
    "Transfix" also means "pierce with a sharp stake or point"--Jane has the power to pierce Mr. Rochester's heart, as well as to render him motionless with her refusal of him, but she does not know this at the time that these words were said to her (as an autobiographer looking back over twenty years of her life, she did know it at the time she wrote the words down for her reader).
  6. presentiment
    a feeling of evil to come
    Presentiments are strange things! and so are sympathies; and so are signs; and the three combined make one mystery to which humanity has not yet found the key.
  7. evince
    give expression to
    It was a wailing child this night, and a laughing one the next: now it nestled close to me, and now it ran from me; but whatever mood the apparition evinced, whatever aspect it wore, it failed not for seven successive nights to meet me the moment I entered the land of slumber.
  8. meager
    deficient in amount or quality or extent
    I drew out my purse; a meagre thing it was.
  9. scantiness
    the quality of being meager
    He took the purse, poured the hoard into his palm, and chuckled over it as if its scantiness amused him.
  10. pecuniary
    relating to or involving money
    “Little niggard!” said he, “refusing me a pecuniary request!
    A niggard is "a selfish person who is unwilling to give or spend"--this sounds like Mr. Rochester is insulting Jane, but he really isn't because 1) he's asking her to give back most of the money that he'd just given her (to insure that she'd return); 2) he says the words almost in the same affectionate tone as he says "little friend" and later, "little elf," "little darling," "little wife," and "my little Jane."
  11. prospect
    the possibility of future success
    The same hostile roof now again rose before me: my prospects were doubtful yet; and I had yet an aching heart.
  12. frivolous
    not serious in content or attitude or behavior
    Her own fortune she had taken care to secure; and when her mother died—and it was wholly improbable, she tranquilly remarked, that she should either recover or linger long—she would execute a long-cherished project: seek a retirement where punctual habits would be permanently secured from disturbance, and place safe barriers between herself and a frivolous world.
  13. bequeath
    leave or give, especially by will after one's death
    Providence has blessed my endeavours to secure a competency; and as I am unmarried and childless, I wish to adopt her during my life, and bequeath her at my death whatever I may have to leave.
  14. prosperity
    the condition of having good fortune
    Because I disliked you too fixedly and thoroughly ever to lend a hand in lifting you to prosperity.
  15. endow
    furnish with a capital fund
    As I shall not have occasion to refer either to her or her sister again, I may as well mention here, that Georgiana made an advantageous match with a wealthy worn-out man of fashion, and that Eliza actually took the veil, and is at this day superior of the convent where she passed the period of her novitiate, and which she endowed with her fortune.
  16. caste
    social status conferred by a system based on class
    The thought of Mrs. O’Gall and Bitternutt Lodge struck cold to my heart; and colder the thought of all the brine and foam, destined, as it seemed, to rush between me and the master at whose side I now walked, and coldest the remembrance of the wider ocean—wealth, caste, custom intervened between me and what I naturally and inevitably loved.
  17. inextricable
    incapable of being disentangled or untied
    “Because,” he said, “I sometimes have a queer feeling with regard to you—especially when you are near me, as now: it is as if I had a string somewhere under my left ribs, tightly and inextricably knotted to a similar string situated in the corresponding quarter of your little frame.
  18. impetuous
    characterized by undue haste and lack of thought
    When I did speak, it was only to express an impetuous wish that I had never been born, or never come to Thornfield.
    "Impetuous" also means "marked by violent force"--this could describe the "acute distress" that is causing Jane to sob convulsively and shake from head to toe. Although Jane is crying over the thought of leaving Mr. Rochester, her expression of impetuous feelings here actually brings her closer to his nature and heart.
  19. fruition
    enjoyment derived from use or possession
    While arranging my hair, I looked at my face in the glass, and felt it was no longer plain: there was hope in its aspect and life in its colour; and my eyes seemed as if they had beheld the fount of fruition, and borrowed beams from the lustrous ripple.
    "Fruition" also means "something that is made real or concrete"--this definition is suggested by Jane's wondering if Mr. Rochester's proposal and love for her are real, while the chosen definition connects to her declaration that "Nature must be gladsome when I was so happy."
  20. attire
    put on special clothes to appear appealing and attractive
    “I will attire my Jane in satin and lace, and she shall have roses in her hair; and I will cover the head I love best with a priceless veil.”
  21. insolvency
    the lack of financial resources
    the idea of my insolvency cooled, or rather extinguished, her flame in a moment.
  22. vouchsafe
    grant in a condescending manner
    “Once again, seriously; may I enjoy the great good that has been vouchsafed to me, without fearing that any one else is suffering the bitter pain I myself felt a while ago?”
  23. accession
    a process of increasing by addition
    I will write to Madeira the moment I get home, and tell my uncle John I am going to be married, and to whom: if I had but a prospect of one day bringing Mr. Rochester an accession of fortune, I could better endure to be kept by him now.
  24. bestow
    give as a gift
    He smiled; and I thought his smile was such as a sultan might, in a blissful and fond moment, bestow on a slave his gold and gems had enriched
  25. stipulate
    make an express demand or provision in an agreement
    You will stipulate, I see, for peculiar terms—what will they be?
  26. rescind
    cancel officially
    I assured him I was naturally hard—very flinty, and that he would often find me so; and that, moreover, I was determined to show him divers rugged points in my character before the ensuing four weeks elapsed: he should know fully what sort of a bargain he had made, while there was yet time to rescind it.
  27. foreboding
    a feeling of evil to come
    “I wish he would come! I wish he would come!” I exclaimed, seized with hypochondriac foreboding.
  28. meridian
    the highest level or degree attainable
    I feared my hopes were too bright to be realised; and I had enjoyed so much bliss lately that I imagined my fortune had passed its meridian, and must now decline.
  29. apprehensive
    in fear or dread of possible evil or harm
    “Are you apprehensive of the new sphere you are about to enter?—of the new life into which you are passing?”
  30. providence
    a manifestation of God's foresightful care for his creatures
    Yesterday I trusted well in Providence, and believed that events were working together for your good and mine: it was a fine day, if you recollect—the calmness of the air and sky forbade apprehensions respecting your safety or comfort on your journey.

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.