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Pride and Prejudice | Quotes

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1.

It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a single man in possession of a good fortune, must be in want of a wife.


Narrator , Chapter 1

This is the opening line of the novel, and is often quoted. It very neatly states the impetus for many of the novel's subplots—the pursuit of wealth and status through marriage. The statement is ironic, because it really reflects the desire of families with unmarried daughters, not necessarily the desire of a single wealthy man, to be married.

2.

Oh! you are a great deal too apt, you know, to like people in general. You never see a fault in any body. All the world are good and agreeable in your eyes. I never heard you speak ill of a human being in my life.


Elizabeth Bennet , Chapter 4

The day after the dance at Meryton, Elizabeth and Jane are discussing Mr. Bingley. This quotation nicely captures the way that Elizabeth views her dear sister/confidante, Jane. While in this case, Elizabeth's assessment is largely accurate, it also illustrates her habit of forming fixed views of other people's personalities.

3.

Happiness in marriage is entirely a matter of chance. If the dispositions of the parties are ever so well known to each other, or ever so similar beforehand, it does not advance their felicity in the least.


Charlotte Lucas , Chapter 6

This quotation reflects Charlotte's acceptance that love and happiness are not necessarily to be expected in a marriage. It points to a difference between her ideas and those of her dear friend Elizabeth, who is more idealistic.

4.

But no sooner had he made it clear to himself and his friends that she hardly had a good feature in her face, than he began to find it was rendered uncommonly intelligent by the beautiful expression of her dark eyes. To this discovery succeeded some others equally mortifying. Though he had detected with a critical eye more than one failure of perfect symmetry in her form, he was forced to acknowledge her figure to be light and pleasing; and in spite of his asserting that her manners were not those of the fashionable world, he was caught by their easy playfulness.


Narrator , Chapter 6

Darcy has just declared that Elizabeth's appearance was "in the atf eidl.barely tolerable." Soon after sharing this observation with his friends, he begins to realize that his first impression may have been hasty. He is beginning to notice more interesting things about her that he initially overlooked. This is the very beginning of Darcy's growing interest in Elizabeth. This realization also signals his willingness and ability to change his opinions.

5.

What are young men to rocks and mountains?


Elizabeth Bennet , Chapter 27

After feeling frustrated by the complications of romance, Elizabeth accepts her Aunt Gardiner's suggestion of a trip to the country. This quotation is an expression of Elizabeth's excitement at changing her focus to something other than social concerns and anticipating the opportunity to enjoy nature.

6.

Do not make yourself uneasy, my dear cousin, about your apparel. Lady Catherine is far from requiring that elegance of dress in us which becomes herself and her daughter. I would advise you merely to put on whatever of your clothes is superior to the rest—there is no occasion for anything more. Lady Catherine will not think the worse of you for being simply dressed. She likes to have the distinction of rank preserved.


Mr. Collins , Chapter 29

Mr. Collins gives this advice to Elizabeth during her visit. In this quotation he manages to insult Elizabeth's lack of access to fancy clothing, while also unintentionally pointing out Lady Catherine's vanity.

7.

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.


Fitzwilliam Darcy , Chapter 34

This quotation is the opening line of Darcy's proposal to Elizabeth. It is striking because of its honesty and openness. It stands in direct contrast to the earlier marriage proposal from Mr. Collins, in which the clergyman lays out an unemotional argument for why Elizabeth should accept his proposal. Although Elizabeth rejects Darcy's proposal, the love and sincerity he expresses are clear.

8.

He spoke well; but there were feelings besides those of the heart to be detailed; and he was not more eloquent on the subject of tenderness than of pride. His sense of her inferiority—of its being a degradation—of the family obstacles which had always opposed to inclination, were dwelt on with a warmth which seemed due to the consequence he was wounding, but was very unlikely to recommend his suit.


Narrator , Chapter 34

This quotation follows Darcy's expression of love. Although Darcy expresses his love for Elizabeth, his presentation is hopelessly flawed because he refers to her "inferiority," meaning her lower social status. Darcy may have meant this to be evidence of how sincerely he loves Elizabeth—so much so that he is willing to overlook their difference in status. However, Elizabeth is deeply offended.

9.

"How despicably have I acted!" she cried. I, who have prided myself on my discernment! I, who have valued myself on my abilities! who have often disdained the generous candor of my sister ... How humiliating is this discovery! ... Had I been in love, I could not have been more wretchedly blind. But vanity, not love, has been my folly. ... [O]n the very beginning of our acquaintance, I have courted prepossession and ignorance, and driven reason away ... Till this moment, I never knew myself."


Elizabeth Bennet , Chapter 36

When Elizabeth reads Darcy's letter explaining his actions and the truth about Wickham, she reacts to her initial prejudice against him. She now realizes that she misjudged him. This quotation marks the turning point in her feelings for him.

10.

Lydia will never be easy until she has exposed herself in some public place or other, and we can never expect her to do it with so little expense or inconvenience to her family as under the present circumstances.


Mr. Bennet , Chapter 41

These are Mr. Bennet's famous last words on the topic of whether Lydia should be allowed to go to Brighton, where the militia it to be relocated. They foreshadow the scandal Lydia causes in running off with Wickham, and reflect Mr. Bennet's negligence. It's worth noting, however, that at this point Mr. Bennet does not know Wickham's true character, and no one suspected the fortune-seeking Wickham would target Lydia.

11.

It was a large, well proportioned room, handsomely fitted up. Elizabeth, after slightly surveying it, went to a window to enjoy its prospect. The hill, crowned with wood, which they had descended, receiving increased abruptness from the distance, was a beautiful object. Every disposition of the ground was good; and she looked on the whole scene, the river, the trees scattered on its banks and the winding of the valley, as far as she could trace it, with delight.


Narrator , Chapter 43

Upon visiting Pemberley with her aunt and uncle, Elizabeth is struck by the unpretentious elegance of Mr. Darcy's home and grounds. Her observations mark a further development in her changing feelings about Darcy.

12.

You are a gentleman's daughter. But who was your mother? Who are your uncles and aunts? Do not imagine me ignorant of their condition.


Lady Catherine de Bourgh , Chapter 56

Lady Catherine visits Longbourn to extract Elizabeth's promise that she will not marry Darcy, her nephew. This quotation demonstrates how she haughtily assumes her power in this matter, and reflects the fine distinctions within the same class of gentry: Lady Catherine's family has a title, and she considers Elizabeth only partially a member of the landed gentry, on her father's side. Elizabeth's vulgar family associations further lower her status.

13.

Elizabeth was much too embarrassed to say a word. After a short pause, her companion added, "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 forever.' Elizabeth feeling all the more than common awkwardness and anxiety of his situation, now forced herself to speak; and immediately, though not very fluently, gave him to understand, that her sentiments had undergone so material a change, since the period to which he alluded, as to make her receive with gratitude and pleasure his present assurances.


Narrator , Chapter 58

This quotation represents the culmination of Elizabeth and Darcy's courtship. As usual, Austen does not include the full dialogue of this sentimental exchange. In an earlier chapter, in the character of Mrs. Gardiner, Austen seems to voice her own attitude towards lovers' talk: "But that expression of 'violently in love' is so doubtful, so indefinite, that it gives me very little idea. It is as often applied to feelings which arise only from a half-hour's acquaintance as to a real, strong attachment."

14.

Good gracious! Lord bless me! only think! dear me! Mr. Darcy! Who would have thought it? And is it really true? Oh! my sweetest Lizzy! how rich and great you will be! What pin-money, what jewels, what carriages you will have! Jane's is nothing to it—nothing at all. I am so pleased—so happy. Such a charming man!—so handsome! so tall!—Oh, my dear Lizzy! Pray apologize for my having disliked him so much before. I hope he will overlook it. Dear, dear Lizzy. A house in town! Everything that is charming!


Mrs. Bennet , Chapter 59

Mrs. Bennet has achieved much of what she has been determined to do. By the end of the novel, three of her daughters are married. This exclamation, uttered when she had accepted that Elizabeth intends to marry Darcyeven though initially Mrs. Bennet does not approve of him—captures her giddiness. She is particularly pleased about Elizabeth's match because Darcy is very wealthy.

15.

I am the happiest creature in the world. Perhaps other people have said so before, but no one with such justice. I am happier even than Jane; she only smiles, I laugh.


Elizabeth Bennet , Chapter 60

In this excerpt from a letter she writes to her aunt, Elizabeth articulates her joy in the incisive way that reflects her intelligence and wit.

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