And if I had loved him less I should have thought his accent and look of exultation savage; but, sitting by him, roused from the nightmare of parting – called to the paradise of union – I thought only of the bliss given me to drink in so abundant a flow. Again and again he said, “Are you happy, Jane?” And again and again I answered, “Yes.” After which he murmured, “It will atone – it will atone. Have I not found her friendless, and cold, and comfortless? Will I not guard, and cherish, and solace her? Is there not love in my heart, and constancy in my resolves? It will expiate at God’s tribunal. I know my Maker sanctions what I do. For the world’s judgment – I wash my hands thereof. For man’s opinion – I defy it.”

– Charlotte Bronte

Jane Eyre, Chapter 23. Jane recalls her joyful reaction to Mr. Rochester’s marriage proposal and his declaration of his love for her. Rochester believes that his genuine love for the friendless and needy Jane will find approval from God. “It will atone,” he says, and “expiate at God’s tribunal.” This foreshadows the dark secret that Rochester is hiding from Jane and will later be revealed to her. He is already wed to mad woman Bertha Mason, so taking another wife amounts to bigamy.