Please Note: This is NOT a Canada post. It is not a travel post. This is just a post about one of my favourite authors, and quotes from her books that especially stand out for me. So if you are not a book lover or a fan of said author, please feel free to stop reading now.
Remember the first time you read Pride and Prejudice, and you swore that you were born in the wrong century and that your soulmate probably existed somewhere in a fictional world? And you bought a T-shirt that said “What do you mean Mr. Darcy isn’t real?” and happened to be wearing it when you had appendicitis? And when the nurse in the ER didn’t know who Jane Austen was, you told him that statement hurt you more than the pain in your side? We’ve all been there.
Because it is a truth universally acknowledged that Jane Austen’s novels are some of the most widely-read in all of literature.
Her work regularly appears on popular must-read lists, is a staple on English literature syllabi, and has inspired many tabletop and online role-playing games. Jane Austen’s works has also notably saturated the literary and film/television markets with a flood of adaptations, spin-offs, prequels, and sequels, ranging from Andrew Davies’s iconic 1995 adaptation of Pride and Prejudice (Yes, that one. It’s okay. Take your time. *cue daydream music* 😀 ) to the web series “The Lizzie Bennet Diaries”, and the successful retelling of Lady Susan in “Love and Friendship” (2016).
But although Jane Austen may be best known for writing about romance, and has consequently ruined most of our love lives because of it, her novels are filled with more than just dancing and passionate letters and significant glances. She created a slew of three-dimensional female characters who took control of their own lives, rejected oppressive standards, and demonstrated plenty of feminist lessons that still apply today. Plus, she doled out extra sass through her witty narration and keen observations. Disguised as stories that always end in happily ever after, Austen’s books are actually full advice on how to be totally fierce.
So yes, Jane Austen may have wrecked our lives with her romance skills… but she also tells us how to piece them back together by providing us lessons in being a bad-ass, whether you’re living in the Regency era or the 21st century.
Below are a few of my favourite quotes from Ms. Austen’s wonderful, charming books:
Pride and Prejudice:
“I am only resolved to act in that manner, which will, in my own opinion, constitute my happiness, without reference to you, or to any person so wholly unconnected with me.” ~ Lizzie Bennet
“There is, I believe, in every disposition a tendency to some particular evil, a natural defect, which not even the best education can overcome.”
“And your defect is a propensity to hate everybody.”
“And yours,” he replied with a smile, “is wilfully to misunderstand them.” ~ Elizabeth and Darcy
“Follies and nonsense, whims and inconsistencies do divert me, I own, and I laugh at them whenever I can.” ~ Lizzie Bennet
Sense and Sensibility:
“Always resignation and acceptance. Always prudence and honour and duty. Elinor, where is your heart?”
“What do you know of my heart? What do you know of anything but your own suffering? For weeks, Marianne, I’ve had this pressing on me without being at liberty to speak of it to a single creature. It was forced on me by the very person whose prior claims ruined all my hope. I have endured her exultations again and again whilst knowing myself to be divided from Edward forever. Believe me, Marianne, had I not been bound to silence I could have provided proof enough of a broken heart, even for you.” ~Marianne and Elinor
“Marianne Dashwood was born to an extraordinary fate. She was born to discover the falsehood of her own opinions, and to counteract, by her conduct, her most favourite maxims.” ~Jane Austen
” . . . that Marianne found her own happiness in forming [Col. Brandon’s] was equally the persuasion and delight of each observing friend. Marianne could never love by halves; and her whole heart became, in time, as much devoted to her husband as it had once been to Willoughby.” ~ Jane Austen
“I may have lost my heart, but not my self-control. ” ~ Emma
“I cannot make speeches, Emma,” he soon resumed; and in a tone of such sincere, decided, intelligible tenderness as was tolerably convincing. “If I loved you less, I might be able to talk about it more. But you know what I am. You hear nothing but truth from me. I have blamed you, and lectured you, and you have borne it as no other woman in England would have borne it. Bear with the truths I would tell you now, dearest Emma, as well as you have borne with them. The manner, perhaps, may have as little to recommend them. God knows, I have been a very indifferent lover. But you understand me. Yes, you see, you understand my feelings and will return them if you can. At present, I ask only to hear, once to hear your voice.” ~Knightley
“It is only a novel… or, in short, only some work in which the greatest powers of the mind are displayed, in which the most thorough knowledge of human nature, the happiest delineation of its varieties, the liveliest effusions of wit and humour, are conveyed to the world in the best-chosen language” ~ Jane Austen
“She was heartily ashamed of her ignorance – a misplaced shame. Where people wish to attach, they should always be ignorant. To come with a well−informed mind is to come with an inability of administering to the vanity of others, which a sensible person would always wish to avoid. A woman especially, if she have the misfortune of knowing anything, should conceal it as well as she can.” ~Jane Austen
“I am sure,” cried Catherine, “I did not mean to say anything wrong; but it is a nice book, and why should not I call it so?”
“Very true,” said Henry, “and this is a very nice day, and we are taking a very nice walk, and you are two very nice young ladies. Oh! It is a very nice word indeed! It does for everything. Originally perhaps it was applied only to express neatness, propriety, delicacy, or refinement—people were nice in their dress, in their sentiments, or their choice. But now every commendation on every subject is comprised in that one word.” ~ Henry Tilney and Catherine Morland
“I hate to hear you talk about all women as if they were fine ladies instead of rational creatures. None of us want to be in calm waters all our lives.”
“My idea of good company…is the company of clever, well-informed people, who have a great deal of conversation; that is what I call good company.’
‘You are mistaken,’ said he gently, ‘that is not good company, that is the best.”
“Life seems but a quick succession of busy nothings.”
“There will be little rubs and disappointments everywhere, and we are all apt to expect too much; but then, if one scheme of happiness fails, human nature turns to another; if the first calculation is wrong, we make a second better: we find comfort somewhere.”