200 years ago today, one of the greatest literary classics was published by Thomas Egerton in London, England. It is a novel which is loved by many and still has the power to appeal to readers across the world.
“It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a single man in possession of a good fortune, must be in want of a wife.”
PRIDE & PREJUDICE
To celebrate the 200th anniversary of the book, I have chosen a few of my favorite quotes. Many of these quotes display Jane Austen’s philosophy, wisdom and her insight into human nature. I believe I once read somewhere that it has been suggested you can learn more about human nature by analyzing an Austen novel than you can by reading a Psychology textbook.
“A person may be proud without being vain. Pride relates more to our opinion of ourselves, vanity to what we would have others think of us”
“Our scars make us know that our past was for real”
“Think only of the past as its remembrance gives you pleasure”
“Happiness in marriage is entirely a matter of chance….it is better to know as little as possible of the defects of the person with whom you are to pass your life”
Austen was also a master of fine wit and comedy. Mr Bennet’s dry humor is a central feature in the novel. Although he is a flawed character and a bad father, his remarks make me chuckle.
“An unhappy alternative is before you, Elizabeth. From this day forward you must be a stranger to one of your parents. Your mother will never see you again if you do not marry Mr Collins, and I will never see you again if you do”
Elizabeth Bennet, the heroine of Pride and Prejudice, is another witty character who is always ready to find amusement:
“Follies and nonsense, whims and inconsistencies do divert me, I own, and I laugh at them whenever I can”
She is also a protagonist who refuses to bow down to the social conventions of Georgian England. There is a wonderful scene in chapter 56 where the formidable Lady Catherine de Bourgh, Mr Darcy’s aunt, is snobbishly putting Elizabeth in her place:
“I will not be interrupted! Hear me in silence. My daughter and my nephew are formed for each other. They are descended, on the maternal side, from the same noble line; and on the father’s, from respectable, honourable, and ancient, though untitled families. Their fortune on both sides is splendid. They are destined for each other by the voice of every member of their respective houses; and what is to divide them? The upstart pretensions of a young woman without family, connexions, or fortune. Is this to be endured? But it must not, shall not be. If you were sensible of your own good, you would not wish to quit the sphere in which you have been brought up.”
I love Elizabeth’s reply; she refuses to let Lady Catherine ruffle her feathers:
“In marrying your nephew I should not consider myself as quitting that sphere. He is a gentleman; I am a gentleman’s daughter: so far we are equal.”
Ironically, Lady Catherine’s visit, intended to dissuade Elizabeth from falling in love with Mr Darcy, is the catalyst which makes Elizabeth realize that Mr Darcy is the one and it allows Mr Darcy to hope, too:
But, unluckily for her ladyship, its effect had been exactly contrariwise…
“It taught me to hope,” said he [Mr Darcy], “as I had scarcely ever allowed myself to hope before. I knew enough of your disposition to be certain, that had you been absolutely, irrevocably decided against me, you would have acknowledged it to Lady Catherine, frankly and openly.”
“You are too generous to trifle with me. If your feelings are still what they were last April, tell me so at once. My affections and wishes are unchanged; but one word from you will silence me on this subject for ever”
Have you read Pride and Prejudice? Are you planning to celebrate the anniversary, reading a few chapters or maybe watching one of the film or TV adaptations of it?