12 Witty Quotes From Jane Austen's 'Emma'

by Julia Seales

There’s a reason Clueless is such an epic movie: it’s based on one of Jane Austen’s best works, Emma. When Jane Austen wrote the novel, she said “I am going to take a heroine whom no one but myself will much like,” thinking that the “clever, handsome, and rich” titular character wouldn’t be as beloved as the sparkling Elizabeth Bennet. But she was mistaken, because despite Emma’s strong convictions that she’s pretty much always right, Janeites hold her in high regard. Because she demands it.

In my opinion, Emma is the wittiest of Austen’s novels, and I love Emma’s confidence. And the film adaptations, from Gwyneth Paltrow’s Emma to the modern-day adaptation Clueless to the web series Emma Approved , all prove how lasting the story truly is. Maybe we will all be in love with Mr. Darcy first and foremost, but we all probably want to be Emma, because she knows what she wants — and she gets it. Austen created a masterpiece when she wrote Emma, and there’s a reason Janeites could argue all day about which novel is best. If you’ve forgotten exactly how witty, romantic, intelligent, and girl-power-esque this book truly is, the following quotes will remind you.

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.

—Jane Austen, Emma

"One half of the world cannot understand the pleasures of the other."

—Emma Woodhouse, Emma

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.

—Jane Austen, Emma

"It is always incomprehensible to a man that a woman should ever refuse an offer of marriage. A man always imagines a woman to be ready for any body who asks her."

—Emma Woodhouse, Emma

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

—Emma Woodhouse, Emma

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

—Emma Woodhouse, Emma

"It is very unfair to judge of any body's conduct, without an intimate knowledge of their situation."

—Emma Woodhouse, Emma

"I have observed, Mrs. Elton, in the course of my life, that if things are going untowardly one month, they are sure to mend the next."

—Mr. Weston, Emma

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

—Emma Woodhouse, Emma

"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."

—Mrs. Elton, Emma

"There is no charm equal to tenderness of heart."

—Emma Woodhouse, Emma

"If I loved you less, I might be able to talk about it more."

—Mr. Knightley, Emma

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