Can a 19th century, maiden authoress still be relevant in the 21st century? When said maiden is Jane Austen, the answer is a resounding, “Yes!” Below I have listed my ten favorite Austen quotes along with my commentary.
I hope you enjoy the wit, wisdom (and perhaps a wee bit of sarcasm) from our beloved Jane.
“Run mad as often as you choose, but do not faint.”
The above quote is taken from Jane Austen’s Juvenilia novel, Love and Friendship (no, not Mansfield Park). In this parody on romance, Sophia, who is dying of consumption (brought about by a fainting fit), is warning her dear friend, Laura:
“Beware of fainting-fits… One fatal swoon has cost me my life… Beware of swoons, dear Laura… a frenzy fit is not one quarter so pernicious; it is an exercise to the body and if not too violent, is, I dare say, conducive to health in its consequences — Run mad as often as you choose; but do not faint.”
Rather strange advice coming from Sophia on her deathbed, huh? “Be careful about fainting fits. If you go around swooning all the time, you could end up dying like I am. Instead, run around in a fit of frenzy – at least that’s good exercise. In fact, run around like a crazy woman as much as you want, but please don’t faint!”
Um, okay. Thanks, I’ll try to remember that!
Although this story is satirical, I believe there’s some serious wisdom to be gleaned here. So without further adieu, here is my take on it:
There are going to be times in life when things seem so bad that you feel like giving up. You feel weak, helpless, and defeated. You think you can’t take anymore. You lack the strength and the courage to carry on.
You feel faint.
You are on the verge of breaking down, falling apart, or caving into circumstances.
Don’t you dare!
Don’t give in to fear, depression, sickness, lack, family problems, or whatever trials you are facing. Don’t succumb to the temptation to go to pieces.
Instead, do what you need to do in order to remain strong and courageous. Now, I don’t recommend you “run mad as often as you choose.” I’d much rather you open up your Bible and build your faith to stand against the problems.
Isaiah 40:29 (AMP) says, He gives power to the faint and weary, and to him who has no might He increases strength [causing it to multiply and making it to abound].
If you’re feeling faint, go to the One who is your Strength! Ask Him to help you, fortify you and empower you to make it through. And, you know what? He will!
Prov 24:10 (NKJ) says, If you faint in the day of adversity, your strength is small. The Message Bible says, If you fall to pieces in a crisis, there wasn’t much to you in the first place.
Don’t faint, don’t fall to pieces, don’t give up, don’t lose heart!
Galatians 6:9 (AMP) – And let us not lose heart and grow weary and faint in acting nobly and doing right, for in due time and at the appointed season we shall reap, if we do not loosen and relax our courage and faint.
Run mad as often as you choose, but do not faint!
“There is nothing like staying home for real comfort.”
Mrs. Augusta Elton is not exactly one of my favorite characters in Emma, but I must say that I completely agree with her on this point! She goes on to say, “Nobody can be more devoted to home than I am.” Well, except maybe me, Mrs. Elton!
I prefer a nice evening in, with a crackling fire in the fireplace, wrapped up in my down blanket, reading a good book or watching a movie with my family. Call me “boring” if you choose, but that’s the way I like it.
I know a lot of people who are constantly going here and there. They’re hardly ever at home. And then there’s me…and my family. We are major homebodies. We’re not reclusive or antisocial, we just prefer the comforts of hearth and home.
What about you? What are your “comfort” preferences?
And the moral of this story is: Don’t be intolerably stupid!
Make time to lose yourself in a good (high quality, classic) novel every so often. According to Henry Tilney in Northanger Abbey, it makes you smart – or at least you’ll look smart holding that huge volume of War and Peace.
Thanks, Mr. Tilney for the reminder!
No man will admire her the more,
no woman will like her the better for it.
Neatness and fashion are enough for the former,
and a something of shabbiness or impropriety
will be most endearing to the latter.”
This quote, taken from Northanger Abbey, always makes me giggle to myself when I read it. How true it is:
“Woman is fine for her own satisfaction alone.”
We must understand that when Jane Austen used the word fine, she was referring to a lady’s appearance, manner of dress, elegance, grace, the way she carried herself, etc.
So basically, what she is saying is that no matter how much we women “primp and preen,” we must make sure we are doing it because we care about ourselves and our appearance. In other words, don’t “dress to impress” others.
“No man will admire her the more for it…
neatness and fashion are enough…”
Your husband, of course, wants an attractive wife. So take care of yourself and your body. Don’t let yourself go. But as long as you are lovely and “neat” in appearance to him, he’s good! Men (for the most part) aren’t complicated like we are. You don’t have to look like a model that stepped off the cover of the latest fashion magazine, nor do you have to wear the latest trends to please him. Wear the style that you like – that satisfies the woman you are.
On the other hand (and this is why I giggle – because so many women compare themselves to others):
“No woman will like her the better for it…
something of shabbiness or impropriety will be most endearing…”
Have you ever felt the eyes of another woman analyze, or even scrutinize, the way you were dressed? Perhaps out of condescension? Perhaps out of jealousy? Maybe you’ve even done that to another woman — I sure hope not!
So, my “takeaway” from this quote is: Be yourself. Love yourself. Take care of yourself. Impress yourself. Don’t get in a tizzy about the way you look. Don’t try to find acceptance from others by dressing to impress them. Be secure in who God made you to be. How you feel and what you believe about yourself should come from who you are inside, not what you look like on the outside.
1 Peter 3:3-4 (NLT) – Don’t be concerned about the outward beauty that depends on fancy hairstyles, expensive jewelry, or beautiful clothes. You should be known for the beauty that comes from within, the unfading beauty of a gentle and peaceful spirit, which is so precious to God.
“Know your own happiness.
Want for nothing but patience —
or give it a more fascinating name:
Call it hope.”
This quote is taken from Sense and Sensibility. Edward Ferrars had been visiting the Dashwood ladies at Barton Cottage for a week, but the time had come to take his leave. He knew he must go, but didn’t want to go at all.
Mrs. Dashwood was trying her best to encourage him, without truly knowing the cause of his melancholy mood.
I love her words! “Know your own happiness. Want for nothing but patience — or give it a more fascinating name: Call it hope.”
We all must know our own happiness.
What truly makes you happy? Do you know? What is the dream in your heart? What brings you joy and a deep sense of satisfaction? What is it that you love to do, the thing you think about all the time?
Know your own happiness…and patiently wait for it to come to pass. Never lose hope!
Romans 8:25 (NIV) – But if we hope for what we do not yet have, we wait for it patiently.
What profound wisdom coming from the mouth of Fanny Price! In the novel, Mansfield Park, scoundrel, Henry Crawford, has asked her to advise him because her opinion is always right, her judgement is his “rule of right.” He wants her to be his moral guide.
She responds to his request, “We have all a better guide in ourselves, if we would attend to it, than any other person can be.”
Well said, Miss Price! If you are born again and your mind is renewed with the Word of God, you most definitely have a better guide – in fact, you have the best guide in the Person of the Holy Spirit.
John 16:13 (NLT) says, When the Spirit of truth comes, He will guide you into all truth.
Ask the Lord to guide you in every area of your life, then “attend to” His guidance and direction. Listen to Him, pay attention to His leading, and obey Him fully. He will never lead you down the wrong path. He will guide you into all truth!
If you would like to find out how the Holy Spirit leads and guides you, please read: The Guide on the Inside.
“My idea of good company…is the company of clever,
well-informed people who have a great deal of conversation; that is what I call good company.”
This quote is from Anne Elliot in Persuasion.
Sorry, Miss Elliot, I beg to differ.
I’m too much of an introvert. This type of company would wear me out! I would most definitely have to withdraw for at least a day afterward just to recover!
Don’t get me wrong, I do enjoy social interaction – up to a certain point. But it’s also draining. After much time talking and fellowshipping with others, I need “alone time” to recharge.
My idea of good company is the company of clever, well-informed people who know when to be quiet…that is what I call good company.
What about you? What is your idea of good company?
“A woman, especially if she have the misfortune of knowing anything, should conceal it as well as she can.”
I can’t offer any comments on this quote because I’m trying to conceal my brilliance…
As cliché as it sounds, Elizabeth Bennet of Pride and Prejudice is my all-time favorite of Jane Austen’s heroines. She’s plucky, and sometimes cheeky, and I can so relate to her!
Maybe you’re more gracious and accommodating than I am, but there comes a time in life when each of us must allow our “courage to rise” and refuse to be intimidated — by the words or actions of others, by circumstances we face, by blatant attacks of the enemy.
In those times, be like Elizabeth and summon your courage. Allow it to rise up within you. When the storms of life threaten to overtake or overwhelm you, be determined to stand strong – no matter how long it takes.
Philippians 1:28 (AMP) – And do not for a moment be frightened or intimidated in anything by your opponents and adversaries, for such constancy and fearlessness will be a clear sign to them of their impending destruction, but evidence of your deliverance and salvation, and that from God.
“What have wealth and grandeur to do with happiness?”
– AND –
“A large income is the best recipe for happiness I ever heard of.”
This quote is actually a “twofer.” The first one being from Marianne Dashwood in Sense and Sensibility, and the second being from Mary Crawford in Mansfield Park.
Contradictory quotes, but I have to say, there are times in which I agree with both ladies!