Charlotte Brontë, Jane Eyre: Ch. 24

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“And what will you do, Janet, while I am bargaining for so many tons of flesh and such an assortment of black eyes?”

“I’ll be preparing myself to go out as a missionary to preach liberty to them that are enslaved—your harem inmates amongst the rest.  I’ll get admitted there, and I’ll stir up mutiny; and you, three-tailed bashaww as you are, sir, shall in a trice find yourself fettered amongst our hands: nor will I, for one, consent to cut your bonds till you have signed a charter, the most liberal that despot ever yet conferred.”

“I would consent to be at your mercy, Jane.”

“I would have no mercy, Mr. Rochester, if you supplicated for it with an eye like that.  While you looked so, I should be certain that whatever charter you might grant under coercion, your first act, when released, would be to violate its conditions.”

“Why, Jane, what would you have?  I fear you will compel me to go through a private marriage ceremony, besides that performed at the altar.  You will stipulate, I see, for peculiar terms—what will they be?”

“I only want an easy mind, sir; not crushed by crowded obligations.  Do you remember what you said of Céline Varens?—of the diamonds, the cashmeres you gave her?  I will not be your English Céline Varens.  I shall continue to act as Adèle’s governess; by that I shall earn my board and lodging, and thirty pounds a year besides.  I’ll furnish my own wardrobe out of that money, and you shall give me nothing but—”

“Well, but what?”

“Your regard; and if I give you mine in return, that debt will be quit.”

“Well, for cool native impudence and pure innate pride, you haven’t your equal,” said he.  We were now approaching Thornfield.  “Will it please you to dine with me to-day?” he asked, as we re-entered the gates.

“No, thank you, sir.”

“And what for, ‘no, thank you?’ if one may inquire.”

“I never have dined with you, sir: and I see no reason why I should now: till—”

“Till what?  You delight in half-phrases.”

“Till I can’t help it.”

“Do you suppose I eat like an ogre or a ghoul, that you dread being the companion of my repast?”

“I have formed no supposition on the subject, sir; but I want to go on as usual for another month.”

“You will give up your governessing slavery at once.”

“Indeed, begging your pardon, sir, I shall not.  I shall just go on with it as usual.  I shall keep out of your way all day, as I have been accustomed to do: you may send for me in the evening, when you feel disposed to see me, and I’ll come then; but at no other time.”

“I want a smoke, Jane, or a pinch of snuff, to comfort me under all this, ‘pour me donner une contenance,’w as Adèle would say; and unfortunately I have neither my cigar-case, nor my snuff-box.  But listen—whisper.  It is your time now, little tyrant, but it will be mine presently; and when once I have fairly seized you, to have and to hold, I’ll just—figuratively speaking—attach you to a chain like this” (touching his watch-guard).  “Yes, bonny wee thing, I’ll wear you in my bosom, lest my jewel I should tyne.”d

X [w] three-tailed bashaw


A bashaw is a pasha or noble Turk. A three-tailed bashaw is "one of lower or higher rank, as indicated by the number of horse-tails borne on his standard" (OED). 

X [w] ‘pour me donner une contenance,’

Literarally, in order to give or keep me in countenance; to maintain my self-possession.

X [d] lest my jewel I should tyne.”


"Tyne" means "lose."

Rochester has renamed and refashioned Jane as houri at one extreme, sylph at the other. Conceiving of her as a charm dangling from his watch-chain degrades her and condemns him.   

Brontë presents him as a pastiche of the ways the well-heeled 19…

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