A while back I took a look at some of the memorable proposals in film. Today, I return to this subject. This time around I focus on memorable and swoon-worthy proposals in period drama.
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As we are all of a similar mind around here (about our shared love of period drama), saving this list for the latter half of the duo seemed prudent. It’s always fun to build up to what we love best and in the famous words of Dorcas Lane (of Lark Rise to Candleford), period dramas are my “one weakness.”
Collected below are scenes that have or will, hopefully, make you smile. Moments that touch our hearts and instances that are sure to make us question the judgment of the lady (allow me to draw your attention to number 8). What each of these do have in common is a deep abiding love of the other person, even if one character isn’t being honest at the time the question is asked.
Read ahead to discover some of the best of the best when it comes to men who are truly heroes proposing to the women who have stolen their hearts. (Beware, there are spoilers below.)
14 Memorable (and Swoon-Worthy) Proposals in Period Drama
Organized by alphabetical order
#1 Anne of Green Gables: The Sequel
The Paring: Anne Shirley (Megan Follows) and Gilbert Blythe (Jonathan Crombie)
The Moment: Gilbert proposes to Anne, who has finally recognized how much she loves her childhood chum.
This one is a classic. Need we digress further?
The Pairing: Eilis (Saoirse Ronan) and Tony (Emory Cohen)
The Pairing: Afraid he’s about to lose her to her native Ireland, and already in love with her, Tony proposes to Ellis.
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#3 Doctor Thorne
The Pairing: Frank Gresham (Harry Richardson) and Mary Thorne (Stefanie Martini)
The Moment: After months apart, Frank pursues Mary in spite of her earlier rebuff.
This ITV miniseries is a delight from beginning to end.
#4 Downton Abbey (ITV Series)
The Pairing: Matthew Crawley (Dan Stevens) and Mary Crawley (Michelle Dockery)
The Moment: After misunderstandings and broken engagements to other people, Matthew and Mary finally pledge their love under a blanket of snowfall.
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#5 Emma (Miramax)
The Pairing: Emma Woodhouse (Gwyneth Paltrow) and Mr. Knightley (Jeremy Northam)
The Moment: Mr. Knightley returns to Highbury with the intent of proposing to Emma.
If I loved you less, I might be able to talk about it more.
Any one of the adaptations of Emma could be featured on this list. This one is featured because, to me, Northam is the best Mr. Knightley. Plus, who can resist him when he tells Emma, “I rode through the rain” just so he could be near her?
#6 Ever After
The Pairing: Danielle (Drew Barrymore) and Prince Henry (Dougray Scott)
The Moment: Arriving to rescue Danielle from the grips of an evil villain, Prince Henry instead finds she’s recused herself, so instead he drops to one knee and proposes.
She is my match in every way, please tell me I haven’t lost her.
RELATED | Classic Romantic Moment: Ever After’s Danielle and Henry
#7 Jane Eyre (Feature Film)
The Pairing: Mr. Rochester (Michel Fassbender) and Jane Eyre (Mia Wasikowska)
The Moment: After months of torment, Mr. Rochester finally confesses his feelings to Jane.
I offer you my hand, my heart. Jane, I ask you to pass through life at my side. You are my equal, my likeness… Will you marry me?
Any adaptation of Jane Eyre would fit on this list but today I chose to look at the most recent version.
#8 North and South (BBC Miniseries)
The Pairing: Margaret Hale (Daniela Denby-Ashe) and John Thornton (Richard Armitage)
The Moment: Mr. Thornton offers his hand to Margaret in the wake of what he understood to be her declaration of love.
True this scene doesn’t end well, but as with every moment in this miniseries, it’s an important scene for these characters. Shameless recommendation moment: if you’ve not seen North and South, rent a copy post haste. It’s an underrated gem worth tracking down.
#9 Persuasion (ITV)
The Pairing: Anne Elliot (Sally Hawkins) and Captain Wentworth (Rupert Penry-Jones)
The Moment: Wentworth writes Anne a letter confessing his long repressed feelings.
Though not a proposal in the traditional sense, this moment and Wentworth’s letter is worth adding to the list. Even if only for the fact that no one writes as men of Wentworth’s era once did.
#10 Pride and Prejudice (1995)
The Pairing: Elizabeth Bennet (Jennifer Ehle) and Mr. Darcy (Colin Firth)
The Moment: Mr. Darcy proposes to Lizzie a second time in hopes of a different outcome.
I have great respect for this six-hour miniseries and believe nothing touches it as an adaptation. Plus, I will admit I do love this scene.
#11 Pride and Prejudice (2005)
The Pairing: Elizabeth Bennet (Keira Knightley) and Mr. Darcy (Matthew Macfadyen)
The Moments: In the rain, Mr. Darcy lays his feelings on the line when he proposes to Lizzie (complete with an insult), and later the pair meet as the sun rises and Darcy proposes with more favorable results.
I couldn’t pick one scene to feature from this film (that’s legit, right?). Both proposals are beautiful and exactly what the story needed.
#12 Sense and Sensibility (BBC Miniseries)
The Pairing: Elinor Dashwood (Hattie Morahan) and Edward Ferrars (Dan Stevens)
The Moment: Edward finally returns to Elinor and confesses his feelings with a proposal.
#13 Testament of Youth
The Pairing: Vera Brighton (Alicia Vikander) and Roland Leighton (Kit Harrington)
The Moment: Home on leave, but scared from the war, Roland impulsively asks Vera to marry him.
#14 Victoria and Albert
The Pairing: Queen Victoria (Victoria Hamilton) and Albert (Jonathan Firth)
The Moment: Having decided upon her perfect mate, a young Queen Victoria nervously proposes to Albert.
This miniseries is beautiful in so many ways. One of which is the love story between these two historical figures, and specific to this list, this scene. The acting is wonderful as is the production (camera angles, music) of the scene.
Additional Memorable Proposals from Period Drama:
- Col. Darcy and Lizzy Bennet from Pride and Prejudice and Zombies
- Jane Bennet and Mr. Bingley from Pride and Prejudice (2005)
- John Davinier and Dido Elizabeth Belle from Belle
- Nicholas Nickleby and Madeline Bray from Nicholas Nickleby (2002)
- Professor Bhaer and Jo March from Little Women (1994)
- Queen Victoria and Albert from The Young Victoria (2009)
- Jane Eyre and Mr. Rochester from Jane Eyre (2006)
AND MANY MORE!
Have you seen any of these series or films? Which are among your favorites? Do you have other favorite proposals in period drama not mentioned? I’d love to read your thoughts – whether for or against, about these scenes.
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9 thoughts on “14 Memorable and Swoon-Worthy Proposals in Period Drama”
I love that you included both Pride and Prejudice versions! I’m also a huge fan of North and South- that’s my favorite movie kiss (except for the cutaway to Henry).
Both versions have their attributes and I love that. I like the scene when Darcy proposes to Lizzy the second time in the A&E version, but I adore BOTH proposals in the new feature film. There’s just something about the “intensity” of the rain proposal, and of course, the simple beauty of the sunset scene. 🙂 “North and South” has THE best reunion and kiss ever. That entire scene? Magic. 🙂
What a fabulous list!!! You’ve included the very best scenes and films. This makes my period drama loving heart happy!
It was lots of fun to put together, Courtney. I’m sure I missed some, but these were the ones that really stood out to me. 🙂 Thanks so much for stopping by. I’m all for fangirl-ing about these period dramas!
Matthew MacFadyen brooding in the rain. Just perfection. Definitley my favorite.
And I think it’s time to rewatch North and South. 🙂
Right? I agree, Kelly. This scene is, without question, an all-time favorite.
I just re watched “North and South” with my mother and it’s just as magical the tenth (or twentieth) time through as the first. Enjoy! 🙂
“North and South” is perfect; that adaptation NEVER grows old. As for Matthew brooding in the rain? I agree. That scene is beautiful. 🙂
The “Emma” and “North and South” ones you mention are my favorites as well, in that order. I also love the “Wives and Daughters” one and think it deserves to be on this list 🙂
One of the most comical ones, IMO, is the proposal from “An Ideal Husband”, sort of a lesson in what not to do when you propose to a lady. Definitely not something that should be in this list though!
Thanks for all your movie recommendations; I have found so many great ones through your website.
Thanks for your comment and kind words! The Wives and Daughters one is so sweet. 🙂 And An Ideal Husband is such an underrated, funny film!