or [subduing] did it inspire

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Senior Member
The quotation comes from Jane Eyre Chapter 21

Quotation: There was stretched Sarah Reed’s once robust and active frame, rigid and still: her eye of flint was covered with its cold lid; her brow and strong traits wore yet the impress of her inexorable soul. A strange and solemn object was that corpse to me. I gazed on it with gloom and pain: nothing soft, nothing sweet, nothing pitying, or hopeful, or subduing did it inspire; only a grating anguish for her woes—not my loss—and a sombre tearless dismay at the fearfulness of death in such a form.

Context: Mrs. Reed had died.
Hi everyone! I don't quite understand the word "subduing" here. Does it mean "it didn't inspire the feeling of subduing, i.e., it didn't let me feel I overcome her and gain the victory"
  • Irelia20150604

    Senior Member
    I think it means something like "calming" here.
    Thank you for you explanation. So, does it mean her body didn't make me (or anyone else) calm?

    :idea: I'm just reminded of some sentence above. They might be helpful.

    Quotation: I felt pain, and then I felt ire; and then I felt a determination to subdue her—to be her mistress in spite both of her nature and her will. My tears had risen, just as in childhood: I ordered them back to their source. I brought a chair to the bed-head: I sat down and leaned over the pillow. (Jane Eyre Chapter 20, when Jane first met dying Mrs. Reed)
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    Signal Modulation
    English - Scotland
    That's what I thought it meant, yes. Even with the earlier reference (which would tend to push in a different direction) I'm still inclined to interpret it as "calming". The problem with these texts is that the nuances of many words were different and dictionaries can't really tell us how a reader of the time would have interpreted it.
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