Jane Austen died 203 years ago this month on July 18, 1817. To celebrate Jane Austen’s life and her incredible talent, I’ve gathered fifteen wonderful Jane Austen quotes about love.
Jane Austen’s six completed novels may not always be categorized as romance novels, but she had an undeniable influence on the romance genre as we understand it today. The least of which was happily ever after endings and cerebral romantic connections between equals.
Now, Jane Austen may have never married, but she had a strong understanding of love and powerful observational skills. So, read Austen’s eloquent words (some offering useful advice), and enjoy these memorable Jane Austen quotes about love, marriage, courtship, etc. May her words inspire each of us to love more and believe in real romance!
JANE AUSTEN QUOTES ABOUT LOVE
1. Emma on Marriage
“A woman is not to marry a man merely because she is asked, or because he is attached to her, and can write a tolerable letter.”Emma Woodhouse, Emma
As misguided as Emma is in her assumptions and matchmaking, she’s not wholly wrong in her heart. Emma longs for more equality in relationships and sees the unjustness of men’s expectations at that time! And the advice still rings true. You don’t have to say yes or like someone merely because they like you.
2. Emma Has an Epiphany
“Why was it so much worse that Harriet should be in love with Mr Knightley than Frank Churchill? Why was the evil so dreadfully increased by Harriet’s having some hope of a return? It darted through her with the speed of an arrow that Mr Knightley must marry no one but herself!”Jane Austen, Emma
Everything in Emma leads to this epiphany of truth by Emma! It’s funny to read and also brilliantly written by Jane Austen.
3. Mr. Knightley Gets Romantic
“If I loved you less, I might be able to talk about it more.”Mr. Knightley, Emma
Mr. Knightley’s declaration is utterly romantic. Ms. Austen sure knew how to write fictional men.
MANSFIELD PARK QUOTES
4. Edmund Pays Fanny a Romantic Compliment.
“He will make you happy, Fanny; I know he will make you happy; But you will make him everything.”Edmund, Mansfield Park
Edmund is difficult to root for sometimes, and while he’s kind of giving Fanny bad advice (to marry Henry Crawford – a man of questionable character) here, he’s also telling Fanny how wonderful she truly is.
5. Fanny on Equality in Love
“I think it ought not to be set down as certain that a man must be acceptable to every woman he may happen to like himself.”Fanny Price, Mansfield Park
Like in Emma, Fanny also points out the absurdity of men’s expectations for women to automatically like a man who happens to like them.
NORTHANGER ABBEY QUOTES
6. On Disappointed Love
“Friendship is certainly the finest balm for the pangs of disappointed love.”Jane Austen, Northanger Abbey
We’ve all had our hearts broken at one time or another. And in those times, what greater advice is there than turning to our friends for support? Friendship helps us heal.
7. Marriage and Dancing
“And such is your definition of matrimony and dancing. Taken in that light certainly, their resemblance is not striking; but I think I could place them in such a view. — You will allow, that in both, man has the advantage of choice, woman only the power of refusal; that in both, it is an engagement between man and woman, formed for the advantage of each; and that when once entered into, they belong exclusively to each other till the moment of its dissolution; that it is their duty, each to endeavour to give the other no cause for wishing that he or she had bestowed themselves elsewhere, and their best interest to keep their own imaginations from wandering towards the perfections of their neighbours, or fancying that they should have been better off with anyone else.”Henry Tilney, Northanger Abbey
Henry speaks to Catherine in this scene as they dance together at a ball and compares dancing and marriage by using an apt analogy. This passage also reveals more of Mr. Tilney’s character and that he likes Catherine. He alludes to faithfulness in a marriage and the importance of not having a wandering eye! Tilney is both intelligent and flirtatious, making him a fun Romantic Hero to read.
8. How to Write a Love Letter
“I can listen no longer in silence. I must speak to you by such means as are within my reach. You pierce my soul. I am half agony, half hope…I have loved none but you.”Captain Wentworth, Persuasion
While this is only a snippet of Wentworth’s romantic letter to Anne, it’s still enough to make you want to believe in true love. The letter may be one of the most passionate and swoon-worthy letters in all of literature. Who wants Darcy when there’s Captain Wentworth?
9. On Devotion
“A man does not recover from such a devotion of the heart to such a woman! He ought not; he does not.”Captain Wentworth, Persuasion
More Captain Wentworth swooniness…
PRIDE AND PREJUDICE QUOTES
10. Only Marry For Love
“Oh, Lizzy! do anything rather than marry without affection.”Jane, Pride and Prejudice
Through the words of Jane to Elizabeth, Jane Austen’s own words of advice shine through. Let’s all take her good advice: never marry without affection.
11. A Proposal Gone Bad
“In vain have I struggled. It will not do. My feelings will not be repressed. You must allow me to tell you how ardently I admire and love you.”Mr. Darcy, Pride And Prejudice
How not to propose…
12. Follow Your Heart
“Her heart did whisper that he had done it for her.”Jane Austen, Pride and Prejudice
This is the moment Elizabeth begins to recognize Mr. Darcy’s Grand Gesture. She also begins to hope that Darcy’s feelings for her have not changed. He paid for Lydia’s wedding to Wickham, and in doing so, helps save her family’s reputation. Of course, Elizabeth then begins to doubt Darcy’s reasons. But the “whisper” in her heart is quite romantic! Paying attention to your heart is also good advice. The truth lies there.
13. Mr. Darcy’s Affections
“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.”Mr. Darcy, Pride and Prejudice
How could I not include Mr. Darcy’s second (and better) proposal?
SENSE AND SENSIBILITY QUOTES
14. Elinor’s Hidden Emotions
“I do not attempt to deny,” said she, “that I think very highly of him–that I greatly esteem, that I like him.”Elinor, Sense and Sensibility
Here, Elinor downplays how much she likes Edward, so as not to instill hope and expectations in her mother and Marianne’s minds. But underneath all that reserve lies deep feelings. Not everyone expresses their feelings outwardly. However, Elinor’s pent-up emotions do eventually rise to the surface. When Edward reveals he’s not married like she thought, she bursts into tears of joy and leaves the room, showing her pent-up feelings to Edward. Of course, they marry, and everything works out in the end.
15. Never Love Halfway
“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, Sense and Sensibility
Sometimes the best love comes “in time.” Marianne is a wonderful example of loving another person with her whole heart. We often forget that love should be a verb. You “love” someone else. You sacrifice and give to another person. By loving, Marianne overcomes her broken heart and helps heal the hurt and brokenness in both herself and Colonel Brandon. Marianne loves in a way that some may construe as foolish, but really once she matures, the way she loves is something to be admired.
What are your favorite Jane Austen quotes about love? Do you have a favorite movie adaptation of each book that best captures Jane Austen’s words? Let me know in the comments!
Featured image: Pride and Prejudice (BBC), Emma (BBC), and Sense and Sensibility (Sony Pictures).