6 Times Jane Austen Got Us All Emotional

By: Sam Fletcher, July 26th, 2023 10:07 am.

There’s a reason why so many revere Jane Austen, and it’s not all those flowery speeches alone. She understood that creating epic romantic moments is in what’s left unsaid.

She also helped pioneer many narrative beats we take for granted in modern romcoms. So what are some of the best all-time great emotional moments she’d write all those years ago?

Oh yeah, and we would warn about spoilers but come on, it’s Austen. 

Final Proposal Between Elizabeth Bennet and Darcy – Pride and Prejudice

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This choice was easy.
It’s a final declaration of love between Fitzwilliam Darcy and Elizabeth Bennet. Seeing how she’s changed him, opening up the class divide, he realizes his ‘prejudice’ (and we shout the title).

Bouncing off each other for the entire story, Darcy and Lizzie admit their feelings. They learn from each other and become better people for it. So it’s an excellent foundation for any relationship.

This book remains a benchmark for romance and is one of Austen’s best-known stories. While this is a familiar narrative in today’s romantic comedy, it’s great to see its roots.

After all, Austen is the true queen!

Mr. Knightley Confessing his Feelings for Emma – Emma

The ultimate ‘friends first’ story makes for an epic romantic conclusion.

Believing Knightley will admit he loves Harriet, we’re shocked when he tells Emma she’s the one. After being such close friends, the wannabe matchmaker finally finds love herself.

‘Will they, won’t they’ has become such a staple of sitcoms and romcoms that it’s easy to forget those who paved the way. And it’s a funny, warm book that’s stood the test of time through countless iterations. Like, nobody can forget Alicia Silverstone as Cher in Clueless.

But, you know, whatever!

Frederick Wentworth Assists Anne Elliot – Persuasion

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It’s no wonder some argue this to be one of Austen’s most romantic novels.

Separated by her family’s snobbery, Anne and Wentworth spend eight long years apart. Finally, he returns only to avoid eye contact, pained by their past. That is until, with one simple gesture, he assists Anne into her carriage.

The love’s still there for all to see, and neither can hold it in. It might be a small moment, but it’s one that Austen does well. As a basic human interaction, it speaks volumes.

And it’s impossible to misunderstand where their heart lies.

Mr. Tilney asks Catherine to Dance – Northanger Abbey

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It may be one of the quieter moments, but it’s no less sweet for it.

Henry Tilney asking Catherine Morland to dance captures the book’s light-hearted tone. Underneath the playful ribbing, Tilney admits his feelings for her.

Again this is a moment that’s all about everything beneath the smiles and nods. Furtive glances from across ballrooms are what Austen’s famous for after all. And then they finally meet!

The book itself was a fun satire of young readers’ obsession with the Gothic novels of that period. Austen wasn’t above escapism, but she also wanted to provide commentary and realism.

So, while it isn’t seeping with emotional drama like other titles here, it does provide a happy break.

Frederick Wentworth’s Letter to Anne Elliot – Persuasion

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Well, of course!

It’s no surprise one of Austen’s most passion-stirring books turned up here twice. And it’s also no shocker we’ve chosen this moment either.

Capping it off with the ultimate romantic climax, Wentworth sends a letter to Anne. Declaring his unwavering love with conviction, he tells her he’s loved nobody else but her. It’s a piece of prose that’s direct and to the point, making it so simple yet so effective.

Not only is the reader won over, but so is Anne. They then renew their relationship giving them their happy ever after.

It also provided the template for countless copycat Lotharios, so take it with a pinch of salt.

Colonel Brandon Divulges Willoughby’s Past – Sense and Sensibility

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Jane said she felt Pride and Prejudice was ‘rather too light and bright and sparkling; it wants shade.’ Well, this book is her answer to that.

With shade flying in all directions, it’s a darker story that some Austen fans overlook. But that somber tone makes it all the more charged.

I could’ve picked John Willoughby sweeping up Marianne Dashwood. It’s one of the more passionate moments of the novel. But again, this story isn’t that.

No, the real moment is when Brandon tells Elinor about Willoughby’s abandoned child. First, it’s heartbreaking because Willoughby and Marianne love each other. On top of that, it’s also painful for Brandon. He’s loved Marianne from the beginning, after all.

Brandon relates the story with zero relish, putting her needs ahead of his own. He breaks the ‘nice guy’ trope by actually, you know, being an unselfish nice guy. It’s a realistic portrayal of romantic pitfalls without the ‘sparkle.’

It also makes the ending kind of a bittersweet bummer.

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