Anybody may blame me who likes, when I add further, that, now and then, when I took a walk by myself in the grounds; when I went down to the gates and looked through them along the road; or when, while Adèle played with her nurse, and Mrs. Fairfax made jellies in the storeroom, I climbed the three staircases, raised the trap-door of the attic, and having reached the leads, looked out afar over sequestered field and hill, and along dim sky-line — that then I longed for a power of vision which might overpass that limit; which might reach the busy world, towns, regions full of life I had heard of but never seen ; that then I desired more of practical experience than I possessed; more of intercourse with my kind, of acquaintance with variety of character, than was here within my reach. I valued what was good in Mrs. Fairfax, and what was good in Adèle; but I believed in the existence of other and more vivid kinds of goodness, and what I believed in I wished to behold. (Jane Eyre)

It seems without two ‘that’s this paragraph makes sense. Then what’s the function of the two?

1 Answer 1


The two that's that you highlighted hark back to the that that appears in the first line. We have: “I add further, that, now and then, when ...; when ...; or when, while Adèle played ... looked out afar over sequestered field and hill, and along dim sky-line —”, in which the en-dash signals to the reader that the long aside or excursion with its three when's is done. The excursion finishes with the previous that not yet filled; it is left to the that then clauses that follow to tell what it is that Jane longed for or desired during the times mentioned in the long aside.

The semantics and grammar would be ok without the that's, but the parallelism of the structure would be less clear to the reader. Also, the text has good rhythmic style. It would read more clumsily with no that's before the then's.

  • Not to mention which even native speakers could use a little help demarcating the three major sections of such a long sentence (well over 70 words, by my estimate). Mar 11, 2013 at 14:49

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