Today’s social interactions are a myriad of shortened phrases that equate to “text speak.” Social interaction has found ways to form and exist in 140 characters or less which oftentimes will lose something in translation. Though convenient and with a purpose, taking a step back from this type of communication is sometimes needed. Sometimes, we need a little more wisdom in our lives.
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Over one hundred years ago when the likes of Jane Austen was penning her now classic novels, conversation was an art form. There were no shiny gadgets at the fingertips of the women we know so well from Austen’s imagination. (Although can you imagine that match made in heaven between Emma Woodhouse and social media!?) What tidbits of wisdom might we learn from these incredible women? Many things I’d argue. Though she’s not a lady of literature, one such lesson that echoes in my mind still are the wise words of Violet Crawley (Downton Abbey), “Vulgarity is no substitute for wit.”
Below I’ve listed a series of quotes from women from both classic and contemporary literature as well as some quotes from literary film adaptations. Though wiser than we give them credit for, no matter how we admire the women of literary tomes, the women of our modern culture have plenty to teach us as well.
Wisdom From Women of Literature and Literary Film Adaptations
1. Alice from Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland
“…it’s no use going back to yesterday because I was a different person then.”
Having not read the books I’m not sure what the underlying message is, but I understand Alice’s journey to Wonderland as “real.” Wonderland was real, not just a figment of her imagination. This quote reminds us each new day is an opportunity to grow and hunger for knowledge; to accept advice from those wiser than we. We need to look forwards, not backward.
2. Anne Shirley from Anne of Green Gables
“True friends are always together in spirit.”
If there were only one thing Anne (spelled with an ‘e’) taught us, it’s the value of friendship. Through distance and vastly different backgrounds, and even a certain cherry cordial incident, she and Diana Berry remained the greatest of bosom friends. Interesting tidbit: in the miniseries, it is Miss Stacy who says the famed words…
3. Cassandra from I Capture the Castle
“There is only one page left to write on. I will fill it with words of only one syllable. I love. I have loved. I will love.”
While this quote is merely an addition to the film script (in the book, Cassandra says ” I love you 3 times), I like it. Not only does it encourage us to pick up the pieces when life gets messy, it shows us Cassandra isn’t about to let her bruised heart dictate her life. (It helps when you understand the journey since she experiences so much growth.)
4. Elizabeth Bennet from Pride and Prejudice
“There are few people whom I really love, and still fewer of whom I think well. The more I see of the world, the more am I dissatisfied with it…”
Elizabeth doesn’t live in our modern era, but she got it right with this quote. Hold close those you love and trust, because, as newspaper headlines can attest, the world is sure to disappoint.
5. Jane Eyre from Jane Eyre
“I am no bird; and no net ensnares me: I am a free human being with an independent will.”
Jane reminds us to be our own person. Some relationships or situations aren’t healthy and with these passionate words, Jane reminds us we have a voice.
6. Josephine March from Little Women
“I want to do something splendid… I don’t know what, but I’m on the watch for it, and mean to astonish you all, some day. I think I shall write books, and get rich and famous; that would suit me, so that is my favorite dream.”
Ah, the incomparable Jo March! Though she disappointed many in her choice of husband (I confess to being at peace with her decision), Jo is ever the dreamer. Through her, we’re reminded to reach for the stars even when they seem far away.
7. Katniss Everdeen from The Hunger Games
“At some point, you have to stop running and turn around and face whoever wants you dead. The hard thing is finding the courage to do it.”
Okay. I know you’re thinking, “How does this apply to us?” Unlike Katniss, we’re not running from anyone who wants us dead, but there is still wisdom to soak in. The takeaway? Facing tough challenges is, no question, a hard thing. But finding the courage to face them squarely? That’s perhaps the hardest of all. Oh to have Katniss’ courage.
8. Margaret Hale from North and South
“One of the first evidences of a real lady, is that she should be modest.”
I adore Margaret Hale. She’s a wonderful woman of literature whose quietness and lack of “warmth” (or outgoing tendencies) make her unlikeable to some. Margaret is a very cautious heroine, always aware of those around her, but never wishing to offend. This quote is much longer than this, but I love the opening line; it’s still relevant today and reminds us, no matter our generation, being a lady should never go out of style.
9. Samantha Moore from Dear Mr. Knightley
“Maybe that’s what love is—sacrificing yourself to save another, taking the insult or taking the hit.”
Sam’s journey is chronicled in a contemporary novel, but her world is reminiscent of a Jane Austen novel because the story relies on Sam’s affection for Austen. This quote reminds us that, in life, sacrifice is sometimes required, not only in love but every one of life’s avenues.
10. Paige from The Start of You and Me
“We all owe each other for a thousand small kindnesses, for little moments of grace in the chaos.”
Aside from a wonderful story (there’s Pride and Prejudice love), Paige from Emery Lord’s beautiful novel (it’s YA, but seriously, it’s wonderful) reminds us life is found in the “little” things. Sometimes even the smallest act of kindness will affect someone else’s day.
What famous literary heroine quotes full of wisdom are among your favorite? Which fictional heroines do you most admire, and why? Sound off below. I’d love to chat – and thanks for reading.
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