Charlotte Brontë, Jane Eyre: Ch. 27

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Chapter XXVII

Some time in the afternoon I raised my head, and looking round and seeing the western sun gilding the sign of its decline on the wall, I asked, “What am I to do?”

But the answer my mind gave—“Leave Thornfield at once”—was so prompt, so dread, that I stopped my ears.  I said I could not bear such words now.  “That I am not Edward Rochester’s bride is the least part of my woe,” I alleged: “that I have wakened out of most glorious dreams, and found them all void and vain, is a horror I could bear and master; but that I must leave him decidedly, instantly, entirely, is intolerable.  I cannot do it.”

But, then, a voice within me averred that I could do it and foretold that I should do it.  I wrestled with my own resolution: I wanted to be weak that I might avoid the awful passage of further suffering I saw laid out for me; and Conscience, turned tyrant, held Passion by the throat, told her tauntingly, she had yet but dipped her dainty foot in the slough, and swore that with that arm of iron he would thrust her down to unsounded depths of agony.

“Let me be torn away,” then I cried.  “Let another help me!”

“No; you shall tear yourself away, none shall help you: you shall yourself pluck out your right eye;w yourself cut off your right hand: your heart shall be the victim, and you the priest to transfix it.”

I rose up suddenly, terror-struck at the solitude which so ruthless a judge haunted,—at the silence which so awful a voice filled.  My head swam as I stood erect.  I perceived that I was sickening from excitement and inanition;w neither meat nor drink had passed my lips that day, for I had taken no breakfast.  And, with a strange pang, I now reflected that, long as I had been shut up here, no message had been sent to ask how I was, or to invite me to come down: not even little Adèle had tapped at the door; not even Mrs. Fairfax had sought me.  “Friends always forget those whom fortune forsakes,” I murmured, as I undrew the bolt and passed out.  I stumbled over an obstacle: my head was still dizzy, my sight was dim, and my limbs were feeble.  I could not soon recover myself.  I fell, but not on to the ground:(d) an outstretched arm caught me.  I looked up—I was supported by Mr. Rochester, who sat in a chair across my chamber threshold.

“You come out at last,” he said.  “Well, I have been waiting for you long, and listening: yet not one movement have I heard, nor one sob: five minutes more of that death-like hush, and I should have forced the lock like a burglar.  So you shun me?—you shut yourself up and grieve alone!  I would rather you had come and upbraided me with vehemence.  You are passionate.  I expected a scene of some kind.  I was prepared for the hot rain of tears; only I wanted them to be shed on my breast: now a senseless floor has received them, or your drenched handkerchief.  But I err: you have not wept at all!  I see a white cheek and a faded eye, but no trace of tears.  I suppose, then, your heart has been weeping blood?”

“Well, Jane! not a word of reproach?  Nothing bitter—nothing poignant?  Nothing to cut a feeling or sting a passion?  You sit quietly where I have placed you, and regard me with a weary, passive look.”

“Jane, I never meant to wound you thus.  If the man who had but one little ewe lambd that was dear to him as a daughter, that ate of his bread and drank of his cup, and lay in his bosom, had by some mistake slaughtered it at the shambles,w he would not have rued his bloody blunder more than I now rue mine.  Will you ever forgive me?”

Reader, I forgave him at the moment and on the spot.  There was such deep remorse in his eye, such true pity in his tone, such manly energy in his manner; and besides, there was such unchanged love in his whole look and mien—I forgave him all: yet not in words, not outwardly; only at my heart’s core.

X [w] you shall yourself pluck out your right eye;


Following His exposition of the Beatitudes (Matthew 5) Christ explains their relationship to the "old law," that of the Hebrews and the Ten Commandments. Adultery, which had been an act in the Ten Commandments—"Thou shalt not commit adultery—Christ reinterprets to include carnal desire: "That whoever looketh on a woman to lust after her hath committed adultery with her already in h…

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X [w] inanition;

Literally, emptiness, from lack of food, but also emotional exhaustion.

X [(d)] I fell, but not on to the ground:


X [d] one little ewe lamb


Rochester alludes to a dramatic moment in 2 Samuel 1-7 when Nathan in a parable describes to David a poor man's sole property, his ewe, which he raised with his family. A rich man appeared and rather than slaughter one of his own lambs he took the poor man's. David becomes angry and says the rich man will die, but Nathan responds, "Thou art the man," for David has stolen another man's wife. Rochester's identification of himself with the fornicator and duplicitous plotter David begins his education. 

X [w] slaughtered it at the shambles,

The OED connects "shambles" with slaughter: "To cut up or slaughter as in the cut up and dispose of a corpse."