Jane Eyre Irony Quotes

“I have a Master to serve whose kingdom is not of this world; my mission is to mortify in these girls the lusts of the flesh; to teach them to clothe themselves with shame-facedness and sobriety – not with braided hair and costly apparel and each of the young persons before us has a string of hair twisted in plaits which vanity itself might have woven; these, I repeat, must be cut off; think of the time wasted, of – ”
Mr. Brocklehurst was here interrupted: three other visitors, ladies, now entered the room. They ought to have come a little sooner, to have heard his lecture on dress, for they were splendidly attired in velvet, silk, and furs. The two younger of the trio (fine girls of sixteen and seventeen) had grey beaver hats, then in fashion, shaded with ostrich plumes, and from under the brim of this graceful head-dress fell a profusion of light tresses, elaborately curled; the elder lady was enveloped in a costly velvet shawl, trimmed with ermine, and she wore a false front of French curls.

– Charlotte Bronte

Jane Eyre, Chapter 7. Mr. Brockehurst lectures the Lowood pupils and their teacher Miss Temple on the importance of wearing plain clothes and straight hair with no curls. He believes that he is on a mission from God to save them from the “lusts of the flesh.” But the barefaced religious hypocrisy and irony of what he preaches are exposed when his wife and two daughters enter the room. They are adorned in luxurious clothing, covered in expensive silk and velvet and animal furs, and are displaying elaborate curls! While he and his family permit themselves to live extravagantly, the poor orphaned girls of Lowood must live plain lives.

“This morning I wrote to my banker in London to send me certain jewels he has in his keeping, – heirlooms for the ladies of Thornfield. In a day or two I hope to pour them into your lap: for every privilege, every attention shall be yours that I would accord a peer’s daughter, if about to marry her.”
“Oh, sir! – never rain jewels! I don’t like to hear them spoken of. Jewels for Jane Eyre sounds unnatural and strange: I would rather not have them.”
“I will myself put the diamond chain round your neck, and the circlet on your forehead, – which it will become: for nature, at least, has stamped her patent of nobility on this brow, Jane; and I will clasp the bracelets on these fine wrists, and load these fairy-like fingers with rings.”
“No, no, sir! think of other subjects, and speak of other things, and in another strain. Don’t address me as if I were a beauty; I am your plain, Quakerish governess.”
“You are a beauty in my eyes, and a beauty just after the desire of my heart, – delicate and aërial.”
“Puny and insignificant, you mean. You are dreaming, sir, – or you are sneering. For God’s sake don’t be ironical!”

– Charlotte Bronte

Jane Eyre, Chapter 24. After proposing to Jane, Rochester wants to drape her in the family jewels and finery for their wedding, as befits her new social position. He wants the world to pay attention to Jane, as she is a beauty in his eyes. But the modest Jane doesn’t want any of this, it doesn’t feel natural or comfortable to her. She protests that she doesn’t see herself as a beauty, but is “your plain, Quakerish governess.” And she admonishes Rochester not to be ironical by calling her a beauty.