Lines to Love: The Jane Austen Edition
As I am a great lover of Jane Austen, I had to indulge in one more post about her. So, today I offer you some of my favorite lines from her novels. What I particularly appreciate about Austen is the plethora of truths she so easily and expertly drops into her prose. Her novels are chock full of wisdom, sometimes pithy, or witty, or ironic, or poignant, but always firmly rooted in truth. As I am a great prizer of Truth, finding these gems in her writing has only further endeared her books to my heart.
Let’s begin with the pithy, witty, and often ironic commentary Austen writes with such aplomb:
Then, of course, there's Henry Tilney's perfect wit and wisdom on display.
This next one is for those of you who find yourselves in the midst of chaos during the holiday season. This truth, perhaps, rings a little more clearly at this time of year, no?
How about Austen’s thoughts on the importance of reading and cultivating a personal library? I find that I could not agree more with her conclusions. This next one is perhaps one of my favorites of all time, and I endeavor toward this goal in all of my writing. (I fully comprehend the magnanimity of such a lofty goal, but, you know, it's important to set the bar high.)
I always appreciate Jane Austen’s insight regarding true friendship. My particular favorites come from her more humorous social commentary novel, Northanger Abbey.
And we cannot forget Austen’s bang on commentary regarding the way in which women are depicted in literature and the reasoning for it. I particularly love the ironic humor revealed in the character of Captain Harville as he talks about this very thing with Anne Elliot in Persuasion:
Then there are these tried and true wisdoms she declaims when it comes to girding up our own inner person and reigning in our emotions:
(Don’t you adore the wit in that one. Every time I read it, it’s with a big smile on my face.)
The way in which Jane Austen describes hope in Sense and Sensibility is exceptional. Particularly the last quote, as though to remind us that we must always remain in hope. After all, that’s what Persuasion was all about (see post here).
Then there is Mrs. Croft, one of my favorite characters in any Austen novel. When she is questioned as to the discomforts and dangers of traveling aboard the Admiral’s ships with him, this is her reply.
Mrs. Croft’s remarks, I believe, are actually Jane Austen’s thoughts on what a truly great marriage- one rooted in love- should be like. After all, being the daughter of a vicar, it stands to reason that Austen would believe that perfect love casts out fear. And from the way she describes Admiral and Mrs. Croft, I think Jane believed their marriage to be one of the most perfect of her construction.
And then there are the declarations of love, that are always so much more than those flat I love you’s that we see all too often. These are robust and full with the understanding that love is seeing each other fully and still loving regardless of the imperfections- or as Oliver Cromwell said, worts and all.
(This line always reminds me of one of my favorite lines from Much Ado About Nothing- "Silence is the perfectest herald of joy. I were but little happy if I could say as much.”)
And I have to include a portion from Wentworth’s letter to Anne. That letter is quite possibly my favorite thing in any of her books. The agony, the hope, the tenderness, the vulnerability of it all render me to tears, especially after so much angst and uncertainty from these two. Suddenly, the air is cleared and they both can be honest and open with each other.
And she does believe it. Like Charlotte Brontë wrote about Jane Eyre, Anne married him, dear readers. Every novel Austen wrote ends with hope. And that is perhaps the reason why I love her the most. Everything should end with hope.
What are some of your favorite lines from Jane Austen’s novels? You can include from her published letters, too, as they are particularly witty and delicious.