a drowned corpse [glanced through] the green water

Discussion in 'English Only' started by Irelia20150604, Mar 14, 2016.

  1. Irelia20150604

    Irelia20150604 Senior Member

    China Shanghai
    Chinese
    The context comes from Jane Eyre Chapter 13

    These pictures were in water-colours. The first represented clouds low and livid, rolling over a swollen sea: all the distance was in eclipse; so, too, was the foreground; or rather, the nearest billows, for there was no land. One gleam of light lifted into relief a half-submerged mast, on which sat a cormorant, dark and large, with wings flecked with foam; its beak held a gold bracelet set with gems, that I had touched with as brilliant tints as my palette could yield, and as glittering distinctness as my pencil could impart. Sinking below the bird and mast, a drowned corpse glanced through the green water; a fair arm was the only limb clearly visible, whence the bracelet had been washed or torn.
    ===
    Hi everyone! I don't understand "glance through" here. The definition of "to look quickly or briefly" and "to look at or through something briefly and quickly:" seems not to work here. :confused: What does the phrase mean?
     
  2. Glenfarclas Senior Member

    Chicago
    English (American)
    OED:

    2. To move rapidly, esp. in an oblique or transverse direction; to dart, shoot; to spring aside.​
     
  3. Irelia20150604

    Irelia20150604 Senior Member

    China Shanghai
    Chinese
    So, is the idea what the picture shows below?

    glance through.png
     
  4. Glenfarclas Senior Member

    Chicago
    English (American)
    No. How do you think a dead body would rise up out of the water? :confused:

    Don't forget common sense just because you're reading a novel. The body was sinking into the sea.
     
  5. Irelia20150604

    Irelia20150604 Senior Member

    China Shanghai
    Chinese
    :D I see, thank you for your explanation.

    I guessed the bold was raised by the billows. Oh,I missed "Sinking below". A terrible mistake. :eek:
     
  6. Loob

    Loob Senior Member

    English UK
    I'm not as sure as Glen that that's the right OED definition, for several reasons:
    - the OED labels that definition obsolete (that's the meaning of the † symbol)
    - we've already been told the body is "sinking"
    - elsewhere in the book, the author uses "glanced" mainly in the sense of "looked quickly"; once (with "off") in the sense of "bounced off"; and twice in the sense of "flickered"/"glimmered"/"was reflected":
    ~ The moon was set, and it was very dark; Bessie carried a lantern, whose light glanced on wet steps and gravel road sodden by a recent thaw.
    ~ According as the shifting obscurity and flickering gleam [of the candle] hovered here or glanced there, it was now the bearded physician, Luke, that bent his brow; now St. John's long hair that waved;...

    Others may not agree, but I would say that "glanced" in post 1 probably means "glimmered".
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    -
     
  7. PaulQ

    PaulQ Senior Member

    UK
    English - England
    I am very close to agreeing with Loob. Jane is describing the picture in terms of the light and shade which emphasise the various symbolic objects in the painting
    I think "a drowned corpse glanced through the green water;" is a reduced passive = a drowned corpse is/can be glanced through the green water; i.e. can be seen indistinctly by the observer.
     
  8. se16teddy

    se16teddy Senior Member

    London but from Yorkshire
    English - England
    Why not? The head of the body is moving and gives the impression of glancing at the observer, even though the eyes are beneath the surface and the corpse has to look through water.
     
  9. PaulQ

    PaulQ Senior Member

    UK
    English - England
    It is a painting and is not moving, and the emphasis is on light and shade, not movement.
     
  10. se16teddy

    se16teddy Senior Member

    London but from Yorkshire
    English - England
    It's a seascape, not a still life: of course it gives an impression of movement.

    Somebody has tried to recreate the painting here: Jane Eyre Painting
     
    Last edited: Mar 14, 2016
  11. PaulQ

    PaulQ Senior Member

    UK
    English - England
    Yes, I've seen that painting... it's going to take some time to remove the image from my mind. :D

    On a merely physical level, it is not possible that the arm is out of the water, it will be very close to, but below, the surface, hence "a fair arm was the only limb clearly visible,". The body below the surface is lying somewhat on its side.

    References to the painting is simply a circular argument - they cannot be held as evidence as they are, by definition, merely someone's interpretation of the passage - an artist's rather than that of someone examining the language.
     
  12. Irelia20150604

    Irelia20150604 Senior Member

    China Shanghai
    Chinese
    :D:D Thanks for the discussion.
     

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