Nothing to cut a feeling or sting a passion

Irelia20150604

Senior Member
Chinese
The quotation comes from Charlotte Brontë – Jane Eyre (Chap. 27) | Genius

Quotation: “Well, Jane! not a word of reproach? Nothing bitter—nothing poignant? Nothing to cut a feeling or sting a passion? You sit quietly where I have placed you, and regard me with a weary, passive look.”

Context: Jane shut herself up and fastened the bolt. She was shocked by the stark truth that her bridegroom, Mr. R, was married. She stayed alone for a long time, and when she came out, she met Mr. R who had been sitting outside her chamber door. To his surprise, she was quiet, without any sign that she had cried. And then, he said: "Well, Jane!..."
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Hi everyone! I don’t quite understand the bold part. I try to interpret it as below. Is it correct?

to cut => To injure the feelings of; hurt keenly.
to sting => to cause to feel a sharp pain:

feeling => tender affection
passion => ardent love

as "heart" is often considered the generator of emotions...

the sentence => there was nothing to keenly hurt my affectionate and ardent heart.
 
  • dojibear

    Senior Member
    English - Northeast US
    The two "nothing" sentences are repeats of "not a word of reproach?" with more elaborate phrases describing what those words of reproach might be like, if she said any:
    - bitter words
    - poignant words
    - words designed to hurt feelings (cut..a feeling)
    - words designed to hurt feelings (sting...a passion)
     

    dojibear

    Senior Member
    English - Northeast US
    I am purposely using a vague term. I do not think it is possible (for me) to know a precise, exact meaning for these phrases. Even if it was, each reader of the novel will decide on a different meaning.

    Could I read it as "words designed to hurt ardent love"?
    Yes, it is possible.

    Some argue "to sting a passion" means "to arouse anger". So I'm not sure
    I have not heard that use, but yes, it is possible.

    I'm not sure I understand your explanation.
    I will try to explain better. It is written in 1847. I think the style (among educated people) in 1847 was to say something more than once, just to show off the different words and phrases they knew. Even if a normal person did not do that, a novel writer would. It would make them seem smarter, and make the novel seem "better" to people in 1847.

    I think that is happening here. I do not think each phrase in bold has an exact meaning that is different from the other phrases in bold:

    not a word of reproach? Nothing bitter—nothing poignant? Nothing to cut a feeling or sting a passion?
     
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