"Jane Eyre," Vocabulary from Chapters 31-38

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 love and honor. 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. homage
    respectful deference
    I shall never more know the sweet homage given to beauty, youth, and grace—for never to any one else shall I seem to possess these charms.
  2. bliss
    a state of extreme happiness
    Whether is it better, I ask, to be a slave in a fool’s paradise at Marseilles—fevered with delusive bliss one hour—suffocating with the bitterest tears of remorse and shame the next—or to be a village-schoolmistress, free and honest, in a breezy mountain nook in the healthy heart of England?
  3. renown
    the state or quality of being widely honored and acclaimed
    I burnt for the more active life of the world—for the more exciting toils of a literary career—for the destiny of an artist, author, orator; anything rather than that of a priest: yes, the heart of a politician, of a soldier, of a votary of glory, a lover of renown, a luster after power, beat under my curate’s surplice.
  4. asunder
    into parts or pieces
    My father, indeed, imposed the determination, but since his death, I have not a legitimate obstacle to contend with; some affairs settled, a successor for Morton provided, an entanglement or two of the feelings broken through or cut asunder—a last conflict with human weakness, in which I know I shall overcome, because I have vowed that I will overcome—and I leave Europe for the East.
  5. estimable
    deserving of respect or high regard
    I found estimable characters amongst them—characters desirous of information and disposed for improvement—with whom I passed many a pleasant evening hour in their own homes.
  6. emulous
    eager to surpass others
    There was an enjoyment in accepting their simple kindness, and in repaying it by a consideration—a scrupulous regard to their feelings—to which they were not, perhaps, at all times accustomed, and which both charmed and benefited them; because, while it elevated them in their own eyes, it made them emulous to merit the deferential treatment they received.
  7. stoicism
    an indifference to pleasure or pain
    In spite of his Christian stoicism, when she went up and addressed him, and smiled gaily, encouragingly, even fondly in his face, his hand would tremble and his eye burn.
  8. relinquish
    turn away from; give up
    St. John, no doubt, would have given the world to follow, recall, retain her, when she thus left him; but he would not give one chance of heaven, nor relinquish, for the elysium of her love, one hope of the true, eternal Paradise.
    Compare to this example sentence: "He could not—he would not—renounce his wild field of mission warfare for the parlours and the peace of Vale Hall." ("relinquish" and "renounce" are synonyms).
  9. enervate
    disturb the composure of
    When you are at Madagascar, or at the Cape, or in India, would it be a consolation to have that memento in your possession? or would the sight of it bring recollections calculated to enervate and distress?
  10. inundation
    the overflowing of a body of water onto normally dry land
    Fancy me yielding and melting, as I am doing: human love rising like a freshly opened fountain in my mind and overflowing with sweet inundation all the field I have so carefully and with such labour prepared—so assiduously sown with the seeds of good intentions, of self-denying plans.
  11. eminence
    high status importance owing to marked superiority
    I honour endurance, perseverance, industry, talent; because these are the means by which men achieve great ends and mount to lofty eminence.
  12. scrupulously
    with extreme conscientiousness
    Can I receive from him the bridal ring, endure all the forms of love (which I doubt not he would scrupulously observe) and know that the spirit was quite absent?
    "Scrupulous" also means "having ethical or moral principles"--this is suggested in St. John's nature as a clergyman, and it would contrast the nature of Mr. Rochester's marriage to Jane, if it had happened the way it had initially been planned. But Jane is using the word to describe St. John's attitude towards sex as a duty to be carefully fulfilled for God, rather than as an expression of love for his wife.
  13. disinterested
    unaffected by concern for one's own welfare
    Jane, you are docile, diligent, disinterested, faithful, constant, and courageous; very gentle, and very heroic: cease to mistrust yourself—I can trust you unreservedly.
  14. endeavor
    a purposeful or industrious undertaking
    Once wrench your heart from man, and fix it on your Maker, the advancement of that Maker’s spiritual kingdom on earth will be your chief delight and endeavour; you will be ready to do at once whatever furthers that end.
  15. impetus
    a force that makes something happen
    You will see what impetus would be given to your efforts and mine by our physical and mental union in marriage: the only union that gives a character of permanent conformity to the destinies and designs of human beings; and, passing over all minor caprices—all trivial difficulties and delicacies of feeling—all scruple about the degree, kind, strength or tenderness of mere personal inclination—you will hasten to enter into that union at once.
  16. discord
    strife resulting from a lack of agreement
    You have introduced a topic on which our natures are at variance—a topic we should never discuss: the very name of love is an apple of discord between us.
  17. obscurity
    an unimportant and not well known standing
    Refuse to be my wife, and you limit yourself for ever to a track of selfish ease and barren obscurity.
  18. propitiate
    make peace with
    I felt how—if I were his wife, this good man, pure as the deep sunless source, could soon kill me, without drawing from my veins a single drop of blood, or receiving on his own crystal conscience the faintest stain of crime. Especially I felt this when I made any attempt to propitiate him.
  19. conceive
    have the idea for
    “And then,” I continued, “though I have only sisterly affection for him now, yet, if forced to be his wife, I can imagine the possibility of conceiving an inevitable, strange, torturing kind of love for him, because he is so talented; and there is often a certain heroic grandeur in his look, manner, and conversation.
    "Conceive" also means "become pregnant"--while this does not fit the example sentence, it is suggested by the likelihood of marriage leading to the conceiving of children, which could lead Jane to conceive love for her husband (although, she would prefer conceiving love before children). A double meaning can also be seen in St. John's threat of "barren" obscurity if Jane refuses to be his wife ("barren" means both "completely wanting or lacking" and "not bearing offspring").
  20. superfluity
    extreme excess
    He would not want me to love him; and if I showed the feeling, he would make me sensible that it was a superfluity, unrequired by him, unbecoming in me.
  21. perceptible
    capable of being grasped by the mind or senses
    “And where is the speaker? Is it only a voice? Oh! I cannot see, but I must feel, or my heart will stop and my brain burst. Whatever—whoever you are—be perceptible to the touch or I cannot live!”
  22. famished
    extremely hungry
    But I always woke and found it an empty mockery; and I was desolate and abandoned—my life dark, lonely, hopeless—my soul athirst and forbidden to drink—my heart famished and never to be fed.
  23. beneficent
    doing or producing good
    Where is the use of doing me good in any way, beneficent spirit, when, at some fatal moment, you will again desert me—passing like a shadow, whither and how to me unknown, and for me remaining afterwards undiscoverable?
  24. avowal
    a statement asserting the truth of something
    The water stood in my eyes to hear this avowal of his dependence; just as if a royal eagle, chained to a perch, should be forced to entreat a sparrow to become its purveyor.
  25. lacerate
    deeply hurt the feelings of; distress
    I softened considerably what related to the three days of wandering and starvation, because to have told him all would have been to inflict unnecessary pain: the little I did say lacerated his faithful heart deeper than I wished.
  26. salutary
    tending to promote physical well-being; beneficial to health
    Jealousy had got hold of him: she stung him; but the sting was salutary: it gave him respite from the gnawing fang of melancholy.
    "Salutary" and "salubrious" are synonymous adjectives that share the Latin root "salus" which means "health"--here, jealousy is seen as a salutary emotion to shake Mr. Rochester out of his sadness; in the earlier example sentence, Mr. Rochester was describing his eighteen-year-old memory as salubrious, because he had not yet become what he now regrets: "a trite commonplace sinner, hackneyed in all the poor petty dissipations with which the rich and worthless try to put on life."
  27. repose
    lean in a comfortable resting position
    “Sacrifice! What do I sacrifice? Famine for food, expectation for content. To be privileged to put my arms round what I value—to press my lips to what I love—to repose on what I trust: is that to make a sacrifice? If so, then certainly I delight in sacrifice.”
  28. disdain
    reject with contempt
    I love you better now, when I can really be useful to you, than I did in your state of proud independence, when you disdained every part but that of the giver and protector.
  29. ministry
    the work of a person authorized to conduct religious worship
    I preferred utter loneliness to the constant attendance of servants; but Jane’s soft ministry will be a perpetual joy.
    The use of the word "ministry" is an allusion to the clergyman Jane had rejected: it emphasizes that Jane's choice of Mr. Rochester over St. John is not a turning away from God towards a selfish desire; rather, it is an undertaking of a different kind of mission, where she could attend to the needs of a confessed sinner who's disabled yet seeking to reform, while also obeying the biblical command to become one flesh in ways that include love, honor, and fruitfulness.
  30. concord
    a harmonious state of things and of their properties
    All my confidence is bestowed on him, all his confidence is devoted to me; we are precisely suited in character—perfect concord is the result.

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