"I should serve as an expiatory victim"
The Governess, 1844
Public DomainThe Governess, 1844 - Credit: Richard Regrave

This is a reference to Romans 3.25, which describes the atonement of human sin through the sacrifice of Christ, "whom God put forward as an expiation by his blood, to be received by faith. This was to show God's righteousness, because in his divine forbearance he had passed over former sins".

It is an allusion that undermines the governess's overt message: by envisioning herself as Jesus dying to atone for others' wrongdoings, she reveals a subconscious suspicion that the children are not the blemishless creatures she claims.