but for a long time I have fancied I hardly know what


Senior Member
The quotation comes from Charlotte Brontë – Jane Eyre (Chap. 35) | Genius

Quotation: “Jane,” she said, “you are always agitated and pale now. I am sure there is something the matter. Tell me what business St. John and you have on hands. I have watched you this half hour from the window; you must forgive my being such a spy, but for a long time I have fancied I hardly know what. <-----Excess quote removed by moderator (Florentia52)----->” (said Diana, Jane's sister)
Hi everyone! I don't quite understand the bold part. I try to interpret it as below. Is it correct?

to fancy =>7. to picture to oneself; imagine: Fancy her living with him.

the sentence => but I hardly know what I have imagined for a long time.
Diana had imagined what happened between St. John and Jane, but she actually didn't know little.
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  • entangledbank

    Senior Member
    English - South-East England
    You make it more negative than it is. She has fancied something for a long time; but when she tries to say to herself what it is, she doesn't know how to. What could it be, this thing that she's imagining?



    Senior Member
    :idea: Thank you both for your explanations. Hmmm... this usage of "to know" is new to me. :confused: Could I understand it as below?

    to know => 2. To regard as true beyond doubt: know

    the sentence => I hardly regarded what I had fancied as true, i.e., I hardly believed what I had fancied.

    Sparky Malarky

    English - US
    I don't know what will happen. [This is straightforward, and means just what it says.]

    If he is elected, then I don't know what will happen to the country. [This is also straightforward, but it starts to express that something unimaginable might happen.]

    If you can't help me, then ... I don't know what! [I can't even think of what to say. I don't know what is going on. I can't even express myself.]

    but for a long time I have fancied [imagined] I hardly know what [I can't even think of what might be the problem].