a muster of northern lights reared their dim lances, close serried, along the horizon

Irelia20150604

Senior Member
Chinese
The context comes from Jane Eyre Chapter 13

The third showed the pinnacle of an iceberg piercing a polar winter sky: a muster of northern lights reared their dim lances, close serried, along the horizon. Throwing these into distance, rose, in the foreground, a head,—a colossal head, inclined towards the iceberg, and resting against it. Two thin hands, joined under the forehead, and supporting it, drew up before the lower features a sable veil, a brow quite bloodless, white as bone, and an eye hollow and fixed, blank of meaning but for the glassiness of despair, alone were visible. Above the temples, amidst wreathed turban folds of black drapery, vague in its character and consistency as cloud, gleamed a ring of white flame, gemmed with sparkles of a more lurid tinge.
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Hi everyone! I don't quite understand the bold part. The expression reminds of the picture below:

2008111011252815109.jpg

But I guess the sentence could be boiled down to "the iceberg was lit by northern lights". The idea seems to has nothing to do with the picture. So I get confused. What does the sentence mean?
 
  • suzi br

    Senior Member
    English / England
    Yes I think you can summarise the whole lot, but the northern lights are in the background and hardly noticeable because of the enormity of the looming 'berg so you cannot really say it was lit by .. framed by would be more accurate.

    The metaphor she uses of lance for the pale lights works if you think of the dims lights radiating up and out like a fan, perhaps.
     

    Irelia20150604

    Senior Member
    Chinese
    :idea::idea:Thank you for your explanation. :D

    Does the sentence suggest "the northern lights form a dim background as compared to a noticeable and enormous iceberg", if I understand your explanation correctly?
     
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