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  1. #1
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    What' the meaning of 'exacting' in this context?

    I was a discord in Gateshead Hall: I was like nobody there; I had nothing in harmony with Mrs. Reed or her children, or her chosen vassalage. If they did not love me, in fact, as little did I love them. They were not bound to regard with affection a thing that could not sympathise with one amongst them; a heterogeneous thing, opposed to them in temperament, in capacity, in propensities; a useless thing, incapable of serving their interest, or adding to their pleasure; a noxious thing, cherishing the germs of indignation at their treatment, of contempt of their judgment. I know that had I been a sanguine, brilliant, careless, exacting, handsome, romping child—though equally dependent and friendless—Mrs. Reed would have endured my presence more complacently; her children would have entertained for me more of the cordiality of fellow-feeling; the servants would have been less prone to make me the scapegoat of the nursery. (Jane Eyre)

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    Unlike the other people-friendly adjectives, ‘exacting’ sounds to, on the contrary, make people worn out. What meaning of the word makes it put along with the other words?

  2. #2
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    Re: What' the meaning of 'exacting' in this context?

    Quote Originally Posted by eipjoo View Post
    I was a discord in Gateshead Hall: I was like nobody there; I had nothing in harmony with Mrs. Reed or her children, or her chosen vassalage. If they did not love me, in fact, as little did I love them. They were not bound to regard with affection a thing that could not sympathise with one amongst them; a heterogeneous thing, opposed to them in temperament, in capacity, in propensities; a useless thing, incapable of serving their interest, or adding to their pleasure; a noxious thing, cherishing the germs of indignation at their treatment, of contempt of their judgment. I know that had I been a sanguine, brilliant, careless, exacting, handsome, romping child—though equally dependent and friendless—Mrs. Reed would have endured my presence more complacently; her children would have entertained for me more of the cordiality of fellow-feeling; the servants would have been less prone to make me the scapegoat of the nursery. (Jane Eyre)

    **
    Unlike the other people-friendly adjectives, ‘exacting’ sounds to, on the contrary, make people worn out. What meaning of the word makes it put along with the other words?
    I believe that this means "exacting of herself", in the sense of 'responsible, self-controlled'.

  3. #3
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    Re: What' the meaning of 'exacting' in this context?

    Perhaps there is also a hint of OCD in this use of exacting, although the concept of OCD was unknown at the time the passage was written.

  4. #4
    Stephanie S is offline Newbie
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    Re: What' the meaning of 'exacting' in this context?

    Quote Originally Posted by eipjoo View Post
    Unlike the other people-friendly adjectives, ‘exacting’ sounds to, on the contrary, make people worn out. What meaning of the word makes it put along with the other words?
    You are right to notice it as a negative adjective. Compare Jane to the Reed children; they are indeed exacting--just notice the way John treats his mother--but their mother adores them and hates Jane. Some strange personalities, such as that of Mrs. Reed, would prefer an exacting child like her own to a more independent one such as Jane. She is at once controlling and being controlled by her children. Jane, on the other hand, does not exert control over her aunt, and also refuses to be controlled by her. Mrs. Reed sees this as being unnatural in a child. She cannot bear that one so young sees through her behaviour and recognises the wrong in her relationships of control.

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