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A Sentence About a Sentence I Love: From Charlotte Brontë’s Jane Eyre

“I am not talking to you now through the medium of custom, conventionalities, nor even of mortal flesh: it is my spirit that addresses your spirit; just as if both had passed through the grave, and we stood at God’s feet, equal—as we are!”

—Charlotte Brontë, from Jane Eyre


Following Jane’s famous declaration of her own worth to the condescending Mr. Rochester (“Do you think, because I am poor, obscure, plain, and little, I am soulless and heartless?  You think wrong!—I have as much soul as you—and full as much heart!”), this sentence is an act of undressing the self—and language itself—of all artifice, so that in a rapid succession of muscular clauses, “I” and “You” are stripped of impediment, “spirit” addresses “spirit,”  and, passing through a syntactical crucible both ethical and erotic, the plural self of lovers—the “we”—stands feet to feet with Divinity itself.


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