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Love confessions from Jane Austen books that will pull your heart strings

Since when was an emoji just as romantic as a sentimental hand-written letter?

By Gaby Flores

When it comes to writing about love, Jane Austen is quite the expert. Whether it’s through a handwritten letter, a private conversation, or a nature walk, Austen’s characters sure know how to express their feelings!

Here are some passages from her complete novels where a protagonist confesses his or her love.

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Sense & Sensibility

Marianne’s premature infatuation with Willoughby

Oh, Marianne! She only wanted to find someone with whom to share her passionate heart. Sadly, the Dashwood sister thought that she could find her perfect match in the wicked Willoughby. And she immediately justified her affections from him to her sister, Elinor:

“You are mistaken, Elinor,” said she warmly, “in supposing I know very little of Willoughby. I have not known him long indeed, but I am much better acquainted with him, than I am with any other creature in the world, except yourself and mama. It is not time or opportunity that is to determine intimacy;--it is disposition alone. Seven years would be insufficient to make some people acquainted with each other, and seven days are more than enough for others.”— Jane Austen, Sense & Sensibility

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Elinor Dashwood’s agony

It really wrecked my heart when Elinor tells Marianne what she had to endure by keeping Lucy Steele’s vicious secret! This passage indicated how much Elinor felt for Edward:

“I understand you. You do not suppose that I have ever felt much. For four months, Marianne, I have had all this hanging on my mind, without being at liberty to speak of it to a single creature[…].

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It was told me, it was in a manner forced on me by the very person herself, whose prior engagement ruined all my prospects— and told me, as I thought, with triumph.

This person’s suspicions, therefore, I have had to oppose, by endeavoring to appear indifferent where I have been most deeply interested, and it has not been only once— I have had her hopes and exultation to listen to again and again. I have known myself to be divided from Edward for ever[…].

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Nothing has proved him unworthy; nor has anything declared him indifferent to me. I have had to contend against the unkindness of his sister, and the insolence of his mother, and have suffered the punishment of an attachment, without enjoying its advantages. And all this has been going on at a time […].

If you can think me capable of ever feeling, surely you may suppose that I have suffered now. The composure of mind with which I have brought myself at present to consider the matter, the consolation that I have been willing to admit, have been the effect of constant and painful exertion— they did not spring up of themselves— they did not occur to relieve my spirits at first.

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No, Marianne. Then, if I had not been bound to silence, perhaps nothing could have kept me entirely— not even what I owed to my dearest friends— from openly showing that I was very unhappy.” —Jane Austen, Sense & Sensibility


Pride and Prejudice

Mr. Darcy’s second proposal to Elizabeth

After his first failed attempt of confessing his ardent feelings for Lizzy, Mr. Darcy was quite able to redeem himself and win our heroine’s heart (and of some readers) by amending Lydia’s mess and reunite Bingley and Jane.

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And surely, we must know that it was all for Lizzy! The gentleman himself reveals it to his beloved:

“If you will thank me,” he replied, “let it be for yourself alone. That the wish of giving happiness to you might add force to the other inducements which led me on, I shall not attempt to deny. But your family owe me nothing. Much as I respect them, I believe I thought only of you.”

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Elizabeth was too much 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; 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.

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The happiness which this reply produced was such as he had probably never felt before, and he expressed himself on the occasion as sensibly and as warmly as a man violently in love can be supposed to do.” — Jane Austen, Pride and Prejudice

Why Mr. Darcy fell in love with Elizabeth

Of course, like Lizzy, we all yearned to find out the reason that made Mr. Darcy go head over heels by Lizzy’s pair of fine eyes! Well, here’s the answer to our enigma:

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Elizabeth’s spirits soon rising to playfulness again, she wanted Mr. Darcy to account for his having ever fallen in love with her. “How could you begin?” said she. “I can comprehend your going on charmingly, when you had once made a beginning; but what could set you off in the first place?”

“I cannot fix on the hour, or the spot, or the look, or the words, which laid the foundation. It is too long ago. I was in the middle before I knew that I HAD begun.”

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“My beauty you had early withstood, and as for my manners--my behavior to you was at least always bordering on the uncivil, and I never spoke to you without rather wishing to give you pain than not. Now be sincere; did you admire me for my impertinence?”

“For the liveliness of your mind, I did.” ‘— Jane Austen, Pride and Prejudice

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Mansfield Park

Henry Crawford’s love confession to Fanny Price

Henry Crawford is definitely a womanizer. Still, he made a slightly better effort in declaring his feelings to Fanny rather than Edmund’s sudden change of heart!

“You are infinitely my superior in merit; all that I know. You have qualities which I had not before supposed to exist in such a degree in any human creature. You have some touches of the angel in you beyond what— not merely beyond what one sees, because one never sees anything like it— but beyond what one fancies might be. But still I am not frightened. It is not by equality of merit that you can be won. That is out of the question. It is he who sees and worships your merit the strongest, who loves you most devotedly, that has the best right to a return. There I build my confidence. […] Do you suppose you are ever-present to my imagination under any other? No, it is ‘Fanny’ that I think of all day, and dream of all night. You have given the name such reality of sweetness, that nothing else can now be descriptive of you.” —Jane Austen, Mansfield Park

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Nice speech, buddy…That is until you decided to run away with Fanny’s cousin, Maria!


Emma

Mr. Knightley’s love for Emma

After all their talkings and teasings, and once Emma discovers her true feelings these two finally get together— and with the charming words of the beloved Mr. Knightley:

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“My dearest Emma,” said he, “for dearest you will always be, whatever the event of this hour’s conversation, my dearest, most beloved Emma— tell me at once. Say ‘No,’ if it is to be said.”

She could really say nothing. “You are silent,” he cried, with great animation; “absolutely silent! at present I ask no more.”

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Emma was almost ready to sink under the agitation of this moment. The dread of being awakened from the happiest dream, was perhaps the most prominent feeling.

“I cannot make speeches, Emma,” he soon resumed; and in a tone of such sincere, decided, intelligible tenderness as was tolerably convincing. “If I loved you less, I might be able to talk about it more. But you know what I am. You hear nothing but truth from me. I have blamed you, and lectured you, and you have borne it as no other woman in England would have borne it. Bear with the truths I would tell you now, dearest Emma, as well as you have borne with them. The manner, perhaps, may have as little to recommend them. God knows, I have been a very indifferent lover. But you understand me. Yes, you see, you understand my feelings and will return them if you can. At present, I ask only to hear, once to hear your voice.” — Jane Austen, Emma

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Northanger Abbey

Henry Tilney and Catherine reunite

To bad that we didn’t get to read Tilney’s proposal to Catherine. But, hey! At least the narrator (a.k.a. Austen) gave us a detailed introspection of their romantic affections. Plus, he went so far as to confront his dreadful father:

“[…] his first purpose was to explain himself, and before they reached Mr. Allen’s grounds he had done it so well that Catherine did not think it could ever be repeated too often.

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She was assured of his affection; and that heart in return was solicited, which, perhaps, they pretty equally knew was already entirely his own; for, though Henry was now sincerely attached to her, though he felt and delighted in all the excellencies of her character and truly loved her society, I must confess that his affection originated in nothing better than gratitude, or, in other words, that persuasion of her partiality for him had been the only cause of giving her a serious thought.

Henry’s indignation on hearing how Catherine had been treated, on comprehending his father’s views, and being ordered to acquiesce in them, had been open and bold. The general, accustomed on every ordinary occasion to give the law in his family, prepared for no reluctance but of feeling, no opposing desire that should dare to clothe itself in words, could ill brook the opposition of his son, steady as the sanction of reason and the dictate of conscience could make it.

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But, in such a cause, his anger, though it must shock, could not intimidate Henry, who was sustained in his purpose by a conviction of its justice. He felt himself bound as much in honour as in affection to Miss Morland, and believing that heart to be his own which he had been directed to gain, no unworthy retraction of a tacit consent, no reversing decree of unjustifiable anger, could shake his fidelity, or influence the resolutions it prompted.” —Jane Austen, Northanger Abbey


Persuasion

Wentworth’s letter to Anne

Last but not least, here is perhaps one of the most memorable love confessions from Jane Austen’s works:

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" 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. Tell me not that I am too late, that such precious feelings are gone forever. I offer myself to you again with a heart even more your own than when you almost broke it, eight years and a half ago. Dare not say that man forgets sooner than woman, that his love has an earlier death. I have loved none but you. Unjust I may have been, weak and resentful I have been, but never inconstant. You alone have brought me to Bath. For you alone, I think and plan. Have you not seen this? Can you fail to have understood my wishes? I had not waited even these ten days, could I have read your feelings, as I think you must have penetrated mine. I can hardly write. I am every instant hearing something which overpowers me. You sink your voice, but I can distinguish the tones of that voice when they would be lost on others. Too good, too excellent creature! You do us justice, indeed. You do believe that there is true attachment and constancy among men. Believe it to be most fervent, most undeviating in

F. W.

I must go, uncertain of my fate; but I shall return hither, or follow your party, as soon as possible. A word, a look, will be enough to decide whether I enter your father’s house this evening or never.” —Jane Austen, Persuasion

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Let’s be honest, Wentworth’s personal note for Anne should be THE role model of how to write a love letter!


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