Quotes from Emma by Jane Austen

Emma by Jane Austen (1775 – 1817) was first published in December 1815. Before she began the novel, Austen wrote, “I am going to take a heroine whom no one but myself will much like.” In the first sentence she introduces the main character as “Emma Woodhouse, handsome, clever, and rich.” Emma is privileged and headstrong, greatly overestimating her matchmaking abilities, her imagination often leading her astray.

Emma was the last novel to be completed and published during Jane Austen’s life, as Persuasion, the last novel Austen wrote, was published posthumously. Emma has been adapted for several films, many television series, multiple stage plays, and has been the inspiration for several novels. Following are a collection of quotes from Emma, a novel that has been said to have “changed the face of fiction”

“Silly things do cease to be silly if they are done by sensible people in an impudent way.”

“I may have lost my heart, but not my self-control. ”

“Business, you know, may bring money, but friendship hardly ever does.”

“Why not seize the pleasure at once? — How often is happiness destroyed by preparation, foolish preparation!”

“I am going to take a heroine whom no one but myself will much like.”

“Surprises are foolish things. The pleasure is not enhanced, and the inconvenience is often considerable.”

“Full many a flower is born to blush unseen,
And waste it’s fragrance on the desert air.”

“Nobody, who has not been in the interior of a family, can say what the difficulties of any individual of that family may be.”

Jane Austen

You may also enjoy: The Biggest Myth About Jane Austen’s Writing Life

“The most incomprehensible thing in the world to a man, is a woman who rejects his offer of marriage!”

“Evil to some is always good to others.”

“Time will generally lessen the interest of every attachment not within the daily circle.”

“I would much rather have been merry than wise.”

“If things are going untowardly one month, they are sure to mend the next.”

“It is very difficult for the prosperous to be humble.”

“Were I to fall in love, indeed, it would be a different thing! but I have never been in love; it is not my way, or my nature; and I do not think I ever shall. And, without love, I am sure I should be a fool to change such a situation as mine.”

“Where the waters do agree, it is quite wonderful the relief they give.”

“I don’t approve of surprises. The pleasure is never enhanced and the inconvenience is considerable.”

“A man always imagines a woman to be ready for anybody who asks her.”

“A very narrow income has a tendency to contract the mind, and sour the temper. Those who can barely live, and who live perforce in a very small, and generally very inferior, society, may well be illiberal and cross.”


Emma by Jane Austen

Emma by Jane Austen on Amazon

“Where the wound had been given, there must the cure be found, if any where.”

“The youth and cheerfulness of morning are in happy analogy, and of powerful operation; and if the distress be not poignant enough to keep the eyes unclosed, they will be sure to open to sensations of softened pain and brighter hope.”

“I do not know whether it ought to be so, but certainly silly things do cease to be silly if they are done by sensible people in an impudent way.  Wickedness is always wickedness, but folly is not always folly.”

“Do not deceive yourself; do not be run away with by gratitude and compassion.”

“Every thing was to take its natural course, however, neither impelled nor assisted.”

“What is passable in youth is detestable in later age.”

“I must tell you what you will not ask, though I may wish it unsaid the next moment.”

“Letters are no matter of indifference; they are generally a very positive curse.”

“Fine dancing, I believe, like virtue, must be its own reward.”

“Vanity working on a weak head, produces every sort of mischief.”

“Time, you may be sure, will make one or the other of us think differently; and, in the meanwhile, we need not talk much on the subject.”

“Men never know when things are dirty or not.”

“The removal of one solicitude generally makes way for another.”

Jane Austen

You may also enjoy: Memorable Jane Austen Quotes

“There are people who, the more you do for them, the less they will do for themselves.”

“You have another long walk before you.”

“It was impossible to quarrel with words, whose tremulous inequality showed indisposition so plainly.”

“The I examined my own heart. And there you were. Never, I fear, to be removed.”

“She had been a friend and companion such as few possessed: intelligent, well-informed, useful, gentle, knowing all the ways of the family, interested in all its concerns, and peculiarly interested in herself, in every pleasure, every scheme of hers–one to whom she could speak every thought as it arose, and who had such an affection for her as could never find fault.”

“Whenever you are transplanted, like me, you will understand how very delightful it is to meet with anything at all like what one has left behind.”

“Seldom, very seldom does complete truth belong to any human disclosure; seldom can it happen that something is not a little disguised, or a little mistaken; but where, as in this case, though the conduct is mistaken, the feelings are not, it may not be very material.”

“That is the case with us all, papa. One half of the world cannot understand the pleasures of the other.”

Jane Austen Emma & Mr. Wodehouse Stamp 1975

See also: Jane Austen Postage Stamps: 2013 & 1975

“I have observed…in the course of my life, that if things are going outwardly one month, they are sure to mend the next.”

“It may be possible to do without dancing entirely. Instances have been known of young people passing many, many months successively, without being at any ball of any description, and no material injury accrue either to body or mind.”

“Seldom, very seldom, does complete truth belong to any human disclosure; seldom can it happen that something is not a little disguised, or a little mistaken.”

“I always deserve the best treatment, because I never put up with any other.”

“It is very unfair to judge of any body’s conduct, without an intimate knowledge of their situation.”

“Where there is a wish to please, one ought to overlook, and one does overlook a great deal.”

“I always take the part of my own sex. I do indeed. I give you notice—You will find me a formidable antagonist on that point. I always stand up for women.”

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