Jane Eyre Vocabulary

Instructor: Audrey Farley

Audrey is a doctoral student in English at University of Maryland.

This lesson introduces eleven vocabulary words in Charlotte Bronte's novel, 'Jane Eyre'. This lesson identifies each word's part of speech, defines each vocabulary word, and provides a passage in which the word is used.

Overview of the Novel

Charlotte Brontë wrote Jane Eyre in 1847. The novel depicts a young woman's transition into adulthood. The narrator uses sophisticated prose, which offers a rich array of vocabulary words for young readers.


Poltroon, noun: a coward, a cravenly person

'What a miserable little poltroon had fear, engendered of unjust punishment, made of me in those days!'


Audacious, adjective: unrestrained by convention or propriety

'Mrs. Reed was rather a stout woman; but, on hearing this strange and audacious declaration, she ran nimbly up the stair, swept me like a whirlwind into the nursery, and crushing me down on the edge of my crib, dared me in an emphatic voice to rise from that place, or utter one syllable during the remainder of the day.'


Ameliorate, verb: to make better

'Spring drew on: she was indeed already come; the frosts of winter had ceased; its snows were melted, its cutting winds ameliorated.'


Supplication, noun: prayer or request

'I desired liberty; for liberty I gasped; for liberty I uttered a prayer; it seemed scattered on the wind then faintly blowing. I abandoned it and framed a humbler supplication; for change, stimulus: that petition, too, seemed swept off into vague space'


Stagnation, noun: inactivity or immobility

'(Women) suffer from too rigid a constraint, too absolute a stagnation, precisely as men would suffer; and it is narrow-minded in their more privileged fellow-creatures to say that they ought to confine themselves to making puddings and knitting stockings, to playing on the piano and embroidering bags.'


Physiognomy, noun: physical characteristics

'His shape, now divested of cloak, I perceived harmonised in squareness with his physiognomy; I suppose it was a good figure in the athletic sense of the term - broad chested and thin flanked, though neither tall nor graceful.'


Caprice, noun: an impulse or whim

'A reception of finished politeness would probably have confused me: I could not have returned or repaid it by answering grace and elegance on my part; but harsh caprice laid me under no obligation; on the contrary, a decent quiescence, under the freak of manner, gave me the advantage.'


Eradicate, verb: to remove or exterminate

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