Again I tell you it is not the insignificant private individual...I wish to mate

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Irelia20150604

Senior Member
Chinese
The quotation comes from Charlotte Brontë – Jane Eyre (Chap. 34) | Genius

Quotation: “Seek one elsewhere than in me, St. John: seek one fitted to you.” (said Jane)

“One fitted to my purpose, you mean—fitted to my vocation. Again I tell you it is not the insignificant private individual—the mere man, with the man’s selfish senses—I wish to mate: it is the missionary.

“And I will give the missionary my energies—it is all he wants—but not myself: that would be only adding the husk and shell to the kernel.”

Context:
He sees the marriage as a functional tool to allow them to travel together and do work of far greater importance than the trivia of love / feelings, which he wants her to ignore.
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Hi everyone! I don’t understand the bold part, especially “private individual”. I try to make it clear as below. Is it correct?

Private individuals are acting only for themselves, and are not representing any group, company, or organization. [from private individual definition | English dictionary for learners | Reverso ]

I think both “the mere man” and “the missionary” refer to Jane.

The sentence => Again I tell you I wish to marry you as a fellow missionary rather than an insignificant woman who just concern herself with her own interests.
 
  • suzi br

    Senior Member
    English / England
    I'm not sure what he means by "mate" .. not having the text to hand, I cannot be sure I rather thought he was suggeting a sex-less marriage up to now?

    Mating usually means sex, but that would be brutally frank for this pair to be talking that way, so I assume he means "mate" more like marriage / team-up.

    He is talking about himself in the third person. He wants to act as the "missionary" which he sees as a more complete / complex thing than his mere mortal frame / human body.
     

    Irelia20150604

    Senior Member
    Chinese
    Thank you for your detailed explanation. :idea:
    He is talking about himself in the third person. He wants to act as the "missionary" which he sees as a more complete / complex thing than his mere mortal frame / human body.
    So should the original sentence be read as "Again I tell you I am not the insignificant private individual—the mere man, with the man’s selfish senses—I wish to mate: I am the missionary"
     

    suzi br

    Senior Member
    English / England
    Well maybe so, but he IS talking about himself. I have now read the entire chapter and I am certain of that.
     

    suzi br

    Senior Member
    English / England
    What he is doing here is seperating himself from his mortal form and talking about the missionary role as something almost outside himself (which maybe is how he sees it, being the direct will of God?)
     

    Loob

    Senior Member
    English UK
    You could understand it as "I am looking for a mate not for the man in me, but for the missionary".

    (Yes, he's not a very attractive character:D.)
     

    suzi br

    Senior Member
    English / England
    Yes, he is a real prig.

    Interesting that Jane's internal thoughts on this conclude that he will still be claiming is marital rights in the bedroom:
    He prizes me as a soldier would a good weapon; and that is all. Unmarried to him, this would never grieve me; but can I let him complete his calculations—coolly put into practice his plans—go through the wedding ceremony? Can I receive from him the bridal ring, endure all the forms of love (which I doubt not he would scrupulously observe) and know that the spirit was quite absent?
     
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