a pleasure like what the thirst-perishing man ...


Senior Member
The quotation comes from Jane Eyre Chapter 17

Quotation: No sooner did I (Jane) see that his attention was riveted on them, and that I might gaze without being observed, than my eyes were drawn involuntarily to his face; I could not keep their lids under control: they would rise, and the irids would fix on him. I looked, and had an acute pleasure in looking,--a precious yet poignant pleasure; pure gold, with a steely point of agony: a pleasure like what the thirst-perishing man might feel who knows the well to which he has crept is poisoned, yet stoops and drinks divine draughts nevertheless.

Context: Jane couldn't help gazing at Mr.R, though she had repeatedly told herself to keep away from him.
Hi everyone. I don't quite understand the bold part. I try to interpret it plainly as:

"A man who is about to die due to thirst has crept to, say, a well. He quite understands the well is poisoned, but he still drinks the water and might thereby feel pleasure. Now I share the pleasure. "

Is it correct?
  • PaulQ

    English - England
    I would understand it as:

    a pleasure of a type that a man who is dying of thirst might feel when he knows that the well that he has struggled to is poisoned yet, nevertheless, he bends down and drinks refreshing quantities of that fatal water.

    i.e. the compelling temptation to do something outweighs the disastrous consequences of that action.
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