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...iteful
antipathy she had conceived against little Adèle: pushing her away
with some contumelious epithet if she happened to approach her;
sometimes ordering her from the room, and always treating her
with coldness and acrimony. Other eyes besides mine watched
these manifestations of character—watched them closely, keenly,
shrewdly. 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.

I saw he was going to marry her, for family, perhaps political
reasons, because her rank and connections suited him; I felt he
had not given her his love, and that her qualifications were ill
adapted to win from him that treasure. This was the point—this
was where the nerve was touched and teased—this was where the
fever was sustained and fed: she could not charm him.

Charlotte Bront. ElecBook Classics


Jane Eyre 265

If she had managed the victory at once, and he had yielded and
sincerely laid his heart at her feet, I should have covered my face,
turned to the wall, and (figuratively) have died to them. If Miss
Ingram had been a good and noble woman, endowed with force,
fervour, kindness, sense, I should have had one vital struggle with
two tigers—jealousy and despair: then, my heart torn out and
devoured, I should have admired her—acknowledged her
excellence, and been quiet for the rest of my days: and the more
absolute her superiority, the deeper would have been my
admiration—the more truly tranquil my quiescence. But as
matters really stood, to watch Miss Ingram’s efforts at fascinating
Mr. Rochester, to witness their repeated failure—herself
unconscious that they did fail; vainly fancying that each shaft
launched hit the mark, and infatuatedly pluming herself on
success, when her pride and self-complacency repelled further
and further what she wished to allure—to witness this, was to be at
once under ceaseless excitation and ruthless restraint.

Because, when she failed, I saw how she might have succeeded.
Arrows that continually glanced off from Mr. Rochester’s breast
and fell harmless at his feet, might, I knew, if shot by a surer hand,
have quivered keen in his proud heart—have called love into his
stern eye, and softness into his sardonic face; or, better still,
without weapons a silent conquest might have been won.

“Why can she not influence him more, when she is privileged to
draw so near to him?” I asked myself. “Surely she cannot truly
like him, or not like him with true affection! If she did, she need
not coin her smiles so lavishly, flash her glances so unremittingly,
manufacture airs so elaborate, graces so multitudinous. It seems to
me that she might, by merely sitting quietly at his side, saying little

Charlotte Bront. ElecBook Classics


Jane Eyre 266

and looking less, get nigher his heart. I have seen in his face a far
different 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,

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