Classic Usage: Miss Brontë certainly knew her Greeks. A heirophant was a Greek priest who interpreted the Eleusian mysteries, but in Jane Eyre she uses it to speak of the Rev. St. John Rivers. He has relentlessly asked for Jane’s hand in marriage and mission. In this section of the book he very nearly wins the battle, “I stood motionless under my hierophant’s touch. My refusals were forgotten – my fears overcome – my wrestlings paralysed. The Impossible – i.e., my marriage to St John – was fast becoming the Possible.”
Classically Mad Usage: Let’s raise a cheer, shall we, for this is the final word on the Jane Eyre Words I Don’t Know List. Hip, hip! Horray! Now, to find one last way to use the word of the day. Hmmmm . . . let’s see . . . it has been my pleasure to act as hierophant as we explore the vocabularic mysteries of the classics. And as we have not yet reached elysium, onward we travel into Hawthorne’s ignominy!