What Do We Know of “Love” in Pride and Prejudice?

Most who have read the book consider Pride and Prejudice a love story, but how often does Austen actually used the word “love” in the novel? And is there more than one kind of love expressed? Let us see…

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Books, Tea & Me | Books, Tea & Me | Page 54
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In Chapter 1, Mrs Bennet explains the necessity of Mr Bennet calling upon Bingley at Netherfield in hopes of fostering romantic love for one of her daughters: “Design? nonsense, how can you talk so? But it is very likely that he may fall in love with one of them, and therefore you must visit him as soon as he comes.”

In Chapter 3, Mrs Bennet’s hopes for a match on one of her daughter’s part with Mr Bingley increases when she learns Bingley plans to attend the Meryton assembly. Romantic love is the focus once again. “Nothing could be more delightful. To be fond of dancing was a certain step toward falling in love; and very lively hopes of Mr Bingley’s heart were entertained.”

charlotteIn Chapter 6, Elizabeth and Charlotte Lucas discuss whether Jane’s “supposed indifference” to Mr Bingley could affect Jane’s relationship to the man. Elizabeth and Charlotte speak of romantic love. Charlotte says, “We can all begin freely – a slight preference is natural enough; but there are few of us who have heart enough to be really in love without encouragement.”

In Chapter 7, Mrs Bennet uses “love” as an endearment. “Well, Jane, who is it from? What is it about? What does he say? Well, Jane, make haste and tell us – make haste, my love.”

In Chapter 9, Mrs Bennet is telling Bingley of others who found Jane attractive. Mrs Bennet speaks of affection rather than love, but we consider the romance of marriage. “When she was only fifteen there was a gentleman at my brother Gardiner’s, in Town, so much in love with her that my sister-in-law was sure he would make her an offer before we came away.”

Elizabeth attempts to make light of her mother’s attempts to bring Jane to a higher standing in Mr Bingley’s opinion.  “And so ended his affection. There has been many a one, I fancy, overcome in the same way. I wonder who first discovered the efficacy of poetry in driving away love!”

Later, Darcy says, “I have been used to consider poetry as the food of love.”

To which, Elizabeth replies, “Of a fine, stout, healthy love it may. Everything nourishes what is strong already. But if it is only a slight, thin sort of inclination, I am convinced that one good sonnet will stare it entirely away.”

In Chapter 11, Elizabeth speaks of “love” as a preference. “I dearly love a laugh.”

In Chapter 13, Mrs Bennet uses the word “love” as a sign of affection for her youngest daughter. “Well, I am sure, I shall be extremely glad to see Mr Bingley. But – good Lord, how unlucky! – there is not a bit of fish to be go today! Lydia, my love, ring the bell. I must speak to Hill this moment!”

In Chapter 19, even though she refuses his proposal, Mr Collins cannot fathom that Elizabeth does not hold romantic love in her heart for him. “As I must, therefore, conclude that you are not serious in your rejection of me, I shall choose to attribute it to your wish of increasing my love by suspense, according to the usual practice of elegant females.”

In Chapter 20, Mr Collins fancies himself in love with Elizabeth even though she has refused his proposal, while Mrs Bennet’s actions are not so much concerned with romantic love, but with the possibility of Elizabeth becoming mistress of Longbourn.  “Mr Collins was not left long to the silent contemplation of his successful love; for Mrs Bennet, having dawdled about in the vestibule to watch for the end of the conference, no sooner saw Elizabeth open the door and with quick step pass her toward the staircase, than she entered the breakfast-room, and congratulated both him and herself in warm terms on the happy prospect of their nearer connection.”

In Chapter 25, Elizabeth and Mrs Gardiner discuss Jane’s doldrums with Mr Bingley’s departure. “I am sorry it went off. But these things happen so often. A young man, such as you describe Mr Bingley, so easily falls in love with a pretty girl for a few weeks, and when accident separates them, so easily forgets her, that these sort of inconsistencies are very frequent.”

To which Elizabeth responds, “An excellent consolation in its way, but it will not do for us. We do not suffer by accident. It does not often happen that the interference of friends will persuade a young man of independent fortune to think no more of a girl he was violently in love with only a few days before.”

Mrs. Gardiner counters, “But that expression of ‘violently in love‘ is so hackneyed, 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. Pray, how violent was Mr Bingley’s love?”

Eventually, Elizabeth concedes, “Oh, test – of that kind of love which I suppose him to have felt. Poor Jane! I am very sorry for her, because, with her disposition, she may not get over it immediately.

In Chapter 26, Mrs Gardiner cautions Elizabeth about Elizabeth’s interest in Mr. Wickham. Mrs Gardiner does not want Elizabeth to confuse a flirtation with long-lasting love. “You are too sensible a girl, Lizzy, to fall in love merely because you are warned against it, and therefore I am not afraid of speaking opening.”

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Pride and Prejudice (2005) | Another Cinema Blog…?
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In Chapter 31, Elizabeth observes Darcy’s interactions with Miss De Bourgh at Rosings. “Elizabeth looked at Darcy to see how cordially he assented to his cousin’s praise, but neither at that moment nor at any other could she discern any symptom of love and from the whole of his behavior to Miss De Bourgh she derived this comfort for Miss Bingley, that he might have been just as likely to marry her, had she been his relation.”

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Pride and Prejudice 200 Years | Jane Austen’s World
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In Chapter 32, at Hunsford Cottage, Charlotte remarks upon Mr Darcy’s interest in Elizabeth. Charlotte recognizes Darcy’s deep-seated feelings for her friend: “My dear Eliza, he must be in love with you, or he would never have called on us in this familiar way.”

In Chapter 33, Darcy asks Elizabeth about her preferences in order to determine their compatibility and to establish an awkward courting. “He never said a great deal, nor did she give herself the trouble of talking or of listening much; but it struck her, in the course of their third reencounter that he was asking some odd, unconnected questions – about her pleasure in being at Hunsford, her love of solitary walks, and her opinion of Mr and Mrs Collins’ happiness; and that in speaking of Rosings, and her not perfectly understanding the house, he seemed to expect that whenever she came into Kent again she would be staying there too. His words seemed to imply it.”

In Chapter 34, we have the opening of Darcy’s disastrous proposal at Hunsford Cottage: “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.”

In Chapter 35, Darcy’s letter to Elizabeth describes Darcy’s observations of Bingley and Jane’s relationship. “I had not been long in Hertfordshire before I saw, in common with others, that Bingley preferred your elder sister to any other young woman in the country; but it was not till the evening of the dance at Netherfield that I had any apprehension of his feeling a serious attachment. I had often seen him in love before.”

In Chapter 36, Elizabeth reads the letter of explanation that Darcy pressed into her hand before departing Rosings Park. As realization of what all she has lost arrives, Elizabeth bemoans, “Had I been in love, I could not have been more wretchedly blind. But vanity, not love, has been my folly. Pleased with the preference of one, and offended by the neglect of the other, on the very beginning of our acquaintance, I have courted prepossession and ignorance, and driven reason away where either as concerned. Till this moment I never knew myself.”

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Pride And Prejudice Film Stock Photos & Pride And Prejudice Film …
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In Chapter 40, after her return from Kent, Elizabeth observes Jane’s continued regret at Mr Bingley’s loss. “She was now, on being settled at home, at leisure to observe the real state of her sister’s spirits. Jane was not happy. She still cherished a very tender affection for Bingley. Having never even fancied herself in love before, her regard had all the warmth of first attachment, and, from her age and disposition, greater steadiness than first attachments often boast…”

In Chapter 41, Mr Bennet uses the word “love” as an endearment for Elizabeth. “Do not make yourself uneasy, my love. Wherever you and Jane are known, you must be respected and valued; and you will not appear to less advantage for having a couple of – or I may say three – very silly sisters.”

In Chapter 42, Mrs. Gardiner uses “love” as an endearment for Elizabeth when they speak of visiting Pemberley. “My love, should you not like to see a place of which you have heard so much?”

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P&P 1995 Screencaps (Random) – Pride and Prejudice 1995 Image (6149935) – Fanpop
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In Chapter 43, when Darcy finds Elizabeth at Pemberley, he joins her and the Gardiners on a walk along one of the paths. The kindness surprises Elizabeth. “Her astonishment, however, was extreme, and continually was she repeating, ‘Why is he so altered? From what can it proceed? It cannot be for me, it cannot be for my sake, that his manners are thus softened. My reproofs at Hunsford could not work such a change at this. It is impossible that he should still love me.'”

In Chapter 44, with a knowing attitude, the Gardiners observe Darcy’s interest in Elizabeth when he brings Miss Darcy to Lambton to take Elizabeth’s acquaintance. “The suspicions which had arisen of Mr Darcy and their niece directed their observation toward each with an earnest though guarded inquiry, and they soon drew from those inquiries the full conviction that one of them at least knew was what it was to love.”

Also in Chapter 44, after Darcy, Bingley, and Miss Darcy depart the inn, Elizabeth fears her aunt and uncle would question her, but they do not. “But she had no reason to fear Mr and Mrs Gardiner’s curiosity; it was not their wish to force her communication. It was evident that she was much better acquainted with Mr Darcy than they had before any idea of; it was evident that he was very much in love with her. They saw much to interest, but nothing to justify inquiry.”

In Chapter 44, Elizabeth reflects upon Mr Darcy’s bringing his sister and Bingley to the Lambton inn to renew their acquaintance. “But above all, above respect and esteem, there was a motive within her of good-will which could not be overlooked. It was gratitude – gratitude, not merely for having once loved her, but for loving her well enough to forgive all the petulance and acrimony of her manner in rejecting him, and all the unjust accusations accompanying her rejection.”

In Chapter 46, Elizabeth grieves for the lost of Darcy’s affections even before he can depart the inn at Lambton once she tells him of Lydia’s elopement with Wickham: “It was, on the contrary, exactly calculated to make her understand her own wishes; and never had she so honestly felt that she could have loved him as now, when all love must be vain.”

In Chapter 47, the Gardiners and Elizabeth rush to Longbourn having receiving news of Lydia’s elopement. Elizabeth says of her sister’s choice, “Sine the -shire were first quartered at Meryton, nothing but love, flirtation, and officers have been in her head.”

In Chapter 50, the word “love” is used again for “preferences.” This occurs after arrangements are made for Lydia’s wedding. Mr. Bennet regrets his not providing properly for his daughters. “Mrs Bennet had no turn for economy; and her husband’s love of independence had alone prevented their exceeding their income.”

In Chapter 51, Elizabeth attributes Lydia’s fascination with the idea of marriage to describe “love.” ~ “She had scarcely needed her present observation to be satisfied, from the reason of things, that their elopement had been brought on by the strength of her love rather than by his…”

In Chapter 52, in Mrs Gardiner’s response to Elizabeth’s plea for knowledge of why Mr Darcy attended Lydia’s wedding, Mrs Gardiner explains, “The motive professed was his conviction of its being owing to himself that Wickha’s worthlessness had not been so well known as to make it impossible for any young woman of character to love or confide in him.”

In Chapter 53, Mr Bennet sarcastically describes Mr Wickham: “He is as fine a fellow,” said Mr Bennet, as soon as they were out of the house, “as I ever saw. He simpers, and smirks, and makes love to us all. I am prodigiously proud of him. I defy even Sir William Lucas himself to produce a more valuable son-in-law.”

In Chapter 54, after Bingley returns to Netherfield, Jane says that she and Bingley can meet as “indifference acquaintances,” to which Elizabeth pooh-pooh’s the idea: “I think you are in very great danger of making him as much in love with you as ever.”

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Pride and Prejudice 1995 – Jane Austen Photo (13601705) – Fanpop
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In Chapter 55, Mrs Bennet again uses “love” as an endearment. This time it is directed toward Kitty, when she tries to remove her fourth daughter from the room so Bingley has the opportunity to propose to Jane. “She then sat still five minutes longer; but, unable to waste such a precious occasion, she suddenly got up, and saying to Kitty, ‘Come here, my love, I want to speak to you.’ took her out of the room.”

In Chapter 59, Elizabeth explains to Jane how she feels about Darcy: “Why, I must confess that I love him better than I do Bingley. I am afraid you will be angry.”

A few paragraphs later in Chapter 59, Jane says of Elizabeth’s admitting her affection for Darcy, “Now I am quite happy for you will as happy as myself. I always had a value for him. Were it for nothing but his love of you, I must always have esteemed him; but now, as Bingley’s friend and your husband, there can be only Bingley and yourself more dear to me.” 

Even later in of Chapter 59, Elizabeth must convince her father of her affection for Mr Darcy. “I do – I do like him,” she replied, with tears in her eyes; “I love him. Indeed he has no improper pride. He is perfectly amiable. You do not know what he really is; then pray do not pain me by speaking of him in such terms.”

MV5BODA1NzQ4ODg0Nl5BMl5BanBnXkFtZTcwMDg2MjI1NA@@._V1_SX640_SY720_In the book’s last chapter, Lydia writes to Elizabeth: “If you love Mr Darcy half as well so I do my dear Wickham, you must be very happy.”

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About reginajeffers

Regina Jeffers is the award-winning author of Austenesque, Regency and contemporary novels.
This entry was posted in British history, Great Britain, Jane Austen, Living in the Regency, Regency era and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to What Do We Know of “Love” in Pride and Prejudice?

  1. justjane1813 says:

    What a great post. I loved reading all these snippets of love!

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