Saturday, 18 April 2009

Jane Austen Quote - Week 52 by Linda

A lesson in Love from Pride and Prejudice, Chapter 26.

Elizabeth is responding to her aunt’s request for information about Wickham which she detailed and then continues:


All this was acknowledged to Mrs. Gardiner; and after relating the circumstances, she thus went on: -- "I am now convinced, my dear aunt, that I have never been much in love; for had I really experienced that pure and elevating passion, I should at present detest his very name, and wish him all manner of evil. But my feelings are not only cordial towards him; they are even impartial towards Miss King. I cannot find out that I hate her at all, or that I am in the least unwilling to think her a very good sort of girl. There can be no love in all this. My watchfulness has been effectual; and though I should certainly be a more interesting object to all my acquaintance were I distractedly in love with him, I cannot say that I regret my comparative insignificance. Importance may sometimes be purchased too dearly. Kitty and Lydia take his defection much more to heart than I do. They are young in the ways of the world, and not yet open to the mortifying conviction that handsome young men must have something to live on as well as the plain."

End of Quote

Let’s see what Jane has to say about “Love”. First, it is a “pure and elevating passion”. I would equate that phrase with our modern day saying about the experience of “falling in love”. Okay, I know about that. It happened to me, and it is a bit different from a crush, puppy love, admiration of Darcy's wet shirt scene, etc.

Next, Elizabeth says her “watchfulness has been effectual”. Well, I didn’t know about that part. Nobody in my experience talked about being ‘watchful’, nor what to ‘watch out’ for. Only recently have I run across the idea of first knowing a potential ‘boyfriend’, and then you proceed to ‘date’ him. The point being that you really get to know a person before any manner of intimacy is begun. By that I mean to say the opportunity for intimacy or putting yourself in danger of being ‘used’.

This brings us to being ‘distractedly in love’. It seems that there is the possibility of suddenly finding oneself in an undesirable situation due to not paying close attention, e.g. being distracted by all that ‘love’ stuff. You may find out that the other person is not honorable, truthful, etc as you first thought. So, we need to proceed very carefully, especially if you are ‘young in the ways of the world’. Believe me, I am old, and the ‘world has many ugly ways’ to beware of. Do you need a list?

Lastly, if things are not correctly done, we can find ourselves with ‘mortifying convictions’ and I have a few. My daughters keep telling me to write a book. Fortunately, there are some already out there.

I am sure Jane has lots of advice for us strewn throughout her works on the subject of ‘love’, and all we have to do is pay attention. End of Lesson.

Linda the Librarian

Pic 1: The beautiful Jennifer Ehle as Lizzy Bennet in Pride & Prejudice 1995, from

Pic 2: Tom Riley as (the dashing!) George Wickham in 'Lost in Austen'.
(Icha's note: Forgive me dearest Linda, but you did not specify which Wickham pix I should put here, and since Lizzy was talking about Wickham, and the only dashing Wickham for me is the LIA version, so here he is!). Pic taken from


Icha said...

Oh Linda, this is such a deep choice you have... I cannot agree more that the world is full of danger, and we women must be vigilant enough to discern which ones are the best for us! Paraphrasing Lizzy's words: "effective watchfulness".

I also understand how this passage can be easily translated to Jane's past with Tom Lefroy, and how bitter she might be when she wrote this... albeit much later she thought of him as a better person...

Anonymous said...

Oh, my goodness, I am in very close position of becoming 'distractly in love' with Wickham! That picture! Oh! I haven't yet seen LIA, that very great pleasure awaits me. You did good, Icha with your choice of pix! THanks!

And I really, really want to think that Jane did not become bitter with Tom, only wiser. And what do you base your statement on when you say "much later she thought of him as a better person"? When did this happen?

Linda the Librarian

Icha said...

Linda:(And what do you base your statement on when you say "much later she thought of him as a better person"? When did this happen?)

I think I owe you ladies a post that has been parking on my laptop for at least one year... it's the theory and observation that make me think that Jane has finally forgave Tom for whatever he did or did not do...

Oh, and honestly Linda: I hate Wickham. But Tom Riley Wickham was so amazing and charming, he truly almost stole the spotlight there! And he wasn't the true b@$tard as depicted in PP... he was a bit different, hence a bit charming too behind his annoying upbringings.