influenced Mr. Rochester [in her behalf]


Senior Member
The quotation comes from Jane Eyre Chapter 16

Quotation: He had almost as much as declared his conviction of her criminality last night: what mysterious cause withheld him from accusing her (Grace)?...It was strange: a bold, vindictive, and haughty gentleman seemed somehow in the power of one of the meanest of his dependants; so much in her power, that even when she lifted her hand against his life, he dared not openly charge her with the attempt, much less punish her for it.

Had Grace been young and handsome, I should have been tempted to think that tenderer feelings than prudence or fear influenced Mr. Rochester in her behalf; but, hard-favoured and matronly as she was, the idea could not be admitted.

Context: Jane was wondering why Mr. R took no action in response against Grace, a servant who, he believed, attempted to kill him.
Hi everyone! I don't understand "in her behalf" here. I've found in behalf/on behalf and on behalf of/in behalf of where many said "I've never heard 'in one's behalf'".:eek: Hmmm... I guess the phrase here means "to think Mr. Rochester was influenced by feelings (which were tenderer than prudence or fear) caused by Grace". Is it correct?
  • natkretep

    Moderato con anima (English Only)
    English (Singapore/UK), basic Chinese
    Yes. Jane rejects the idea that Mr Rochester was influenced by some kind of sexual attraction towards Grace. She thinks this is not possible because Grace isn't young or handsome. Mr Rochester's not openly charging Grace is not motivated by sexual attraction. It cannot explain his apparently acting in Grace's favour (in her behalf).

    'In one's behalf' can mean 'for the benefit of that person'. This is the OED, sense 2b:
    b. In the interest of, as a friend or defender of, for the benefit of. (With the notion of interposition: ‘speak in my behalf’ = in my interest, say a good word for me, intercede for me.)
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