My nerves vibrated to those low-spoken words as they had never vibrated to thunder


Senior Member
The quotation comes from Charlotte Brontë – Jane Eyre (Chap. 26) | Genius

Quotation: My nerves vibrated to those low-spoken words as they had never vibrated to thunder—my blood felt their subtle violence as it had never felt frost or fire; but I was collected, and in no danger of swooning. I looked at Mr. Rochester: I made him look at me. His whole face was colourless rock: his eye was both spark and flint. He disavowed nothing: he seemed as if he would defy all things.

Context: the impediment “simply consists in the existence of a previous marriage. Mr. Rochester has a wife now living.”
Hi everyone! I don’t quite understand the bold part. It’s fairly subtle. I try to interpret it as below. Is it correct?

Nerves => as in my thread every [nerve] I had feared him
I think that fiction writers of the time associated "nerves" with the mind, and mental distress, so I think she's saying that she feared him not only with her mind; the fear was physical too.
The sentence => My nerves (like strings) vibrated (quivered) to (in response to) the words as (in such a painful, torturing, annoying, distressful, etc., way) that they had never vibrated to thunder
  • Sparky Malarky

    English - US
    You are correct that people - not only in Bronte's time - associate "nerves" with mental distress. But in this case, I think she's actually referring more to a feeling of shock running through Jane's whole body.

    Just my interpretation.


    Senior Member
    :idea: I see. Thank you for your explanation. I've mentally formed a picture:

    Jane's nerves vibrated to the horrible announcement, and then the shockwave went through Jane's little body. :D

    Your explanation has reminded me of my thread: the announcement sent through me
    It could be like ripples through a pond, or electricity through a cable, or any number of things that ban be transmitted (moved) from one place to another through some thing. You can post a letter through a door. Letters are sent through the post. Missiles are sent flying through space.

    In your case I would read this as as you did: she experiences an extremely strong emotional response which travels though her entire body.
    I've learned more now. :idea: I
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