On a dark road near Thornfield Hall, Jane Eyre has caused a stranger’s horse to shy and throw its rider, a big, frowning and far from good-looking man. He brushes her offers of help away, but she hangs around all the same, prompting her to wonder why she feels so comfortable with this gruff traveller.
HAD he been a handsome, heroic-looking young gentleman, I should not have dared to stand thus questioning him against his will, and offering my services unasked. I had hardly ever seen a handsome youth; never in my life spoken to one. I had a theoretical reverence and homage for beauty, elegance, gallantry, fascination; but had I met those qualities incarnate in masculine shape, I should have known instinctively that they neither had nor could have sympathy with anything in me, and should have shunned them as one would fire, lightning, or anything else that is bright but antipathetic.
If even this stranger had smiled and been good-humoured to me when I addressed him; if he had put off my offer of assistance gaily and with thanks, I should have gone on my way and not felt any vocation to renew inquiries: but the frown, the roughness of the traveller, set me at my ease.
Compare Marianne Dashwood’s first encounter with Mr Willoughby in Jane Austen’s ‘Sense and Sensibility’, in Swept off her Feet.