I am reading the book "Jane Eyre" and there is a sentence which I can't understand: "like a reflection from the aspect of an angel" What does the word "aspect" mean in this case?

This is the context. Thank you very much in advance for your help:

There was I, then, mounted aloft; I, who had said I could not bear the shame of standing on my natural feet in the middle of the room, was now exposed to general view on a pedestal of infamy (the patron of the school in which she studied told her in public that she was a servant of the devil.)

What my sensations were no language can describe; but just as they all rose, stifling my breath and constricting my throat, a girl came up and passed me: in passing, she lifted her eyes. What a strange light inspired them! What an extraordinary sensation that ray sent through me! How the new feeling bore me up! It was as if a martyr, a hero, had passed a slave or victim, and imparted strength in the transit.

I mastered the rising hysteria, lifted up my head, and took a firm stand on the stool. Helen Burns asked some slight question about her work of Miss Smith, was chidden for the triviality of the inquiry, returned to her place, and smiled at me as she again went by. What a smile! I remember it now, and I know that it was the effluence of fine intellect, of true courage; it lit up her marked lineaments, her thin face, her sunken grey eye, like a reflection from the aspect of an angel.

Yet at that moment Helen Burns wore on her arm "the untidy badge;" scarcely an hour ago I had heard her condemned by Miss Scatcherd to a dinner of bread and water on the morrow because she had blotted an exercise in copying it out. Such is the imperfect nature of man! such spots are there on the disc of the clearest planet; and eyes like Miss Scatcherd's can only see those minute defects, and are blind to the full brightness of the orb.

  • Do you know why a paragraph is necessary when you write a question?
    – user140086
    Jan 25, 2016 at 12:34
  • 3
    @Rathony This is a unusually well-written "what does this word mean in this context" question. It has the specific word, the source of confusion, the larger context, and a link to the source material. I don't fault anyone for not knowing how to use Markdown formatting tools right off the bat (Markdown swallows linebreaks by default in several cases). Easier to simply edit the question to include a few line breaks than chide the person.
    – Dan Bron
    Jan 25, 2016 at 12:37
  • I don't know how to do a paragraph
    – italiana
    Jan 25, 2016 at 12:40
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    @Rathony It is much better than the typical question of this sort, which almost always asks for some common word, with no context, no quote, and no link. Here, OP asks for a relatively uncommon word, gives the sentence in which it appears immediately, then follows up with not only a link to the source material, but a full copy&pasted quotation, which never happens. That OP didn't know how to use SE's proprietary formatting tools is a distraction.
    – Dan Bron
    Jan 25, 2016 at 12:46
  • 1
    If English isn't your mother tongue, we'd be remiss not to at least inform you about the English Language Learners Stack Exchange, which you might find helpful for future questions.
    – J.R.
    Jan 25, 2016 at 14:05

1 Answer 1


I believe that the author is using the word "aspect" in this context as a synonym for "face". See here.

  • You might be on to something here. I'm not the down-voter, but you might want to point out the definite article before aspect and how the aspect differs from an aspect in this context.
    – Lawrence
    Jan 25, 2016 at 13:44
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    Thanks for your input. I think that my answer stands as is. "like a reflection from the aspect of an angel." = "like a reflection from the face of an angel." The alternative "like a reflection from a face of an angel." is a trifle clumsy to my ear.
    – Vérace
    Jan 25, 2016 at 14:05
  • The parallel sentences fit well in your answer, though my comment was about the aspect vs an aspect. If the quote had been "... reflection from an aspect of an angel", there would be little justification in proposing this as a reference to the angel's face. Calling it the aspect raises the question of which aspect (unless you consider 'of' to reference the whole angel), leading nicely to your suggestion.
    – Lawrence
    Jan 25, 2016 at 23:29

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