Although I’ve managed to master a couple of foreign languages, outlandish-looking grammar has so far stymied my repeated, and repeatedly failed, attempts to learn German beyond anything but the most passive reading capability.

Here, a highly dutiful, self-sacrificially disciplined character looks up from his own assiduous studies, as if to check that Jane Eyre and his sisters are exercising as much steely devotion to learning as they should be.

Or perhaps he was secretly seeking a way out? Somehow, despite it being contrary to his rigidity, it reminds me of the reluctant schoolboy who got a study-scare one afternoon

 

‘… but that blue eye of his had a habit of leaving the outlandish-looking grammar, and wandering over, and sometimes fixing upon us, his fellow-students.’

 

Source: Charlotte Bronte, Jane Eyre (London: Bounty Books, 2012 (1847)), p. 520

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