It's time for a battle of wits, classics edition! Jane Austen's Pride and Prejudice has remained one of the most-read romance novels of all time and has been made into numerous TV adaptions and films. But some lines are too good to change - many of the famous one-liners from Austen's original novel show up across multiple adaptations. So get ready for some verbal repartee! Here is a list of our 7 favorite insults, taken from the original text.
SPOILER ALERT: if you haven't read or seen Pride and Prejudice, these insults contain spoilers that reveal important plot points! You can download the classic text here in our library catalog; it's always available!
7. In seventh place we have the I'm-not-mad-just-disappointed insult, relegated to last place as it's said by Pride and Prejudice's resident villain, Mr. Wickham:
"His behavior to myself has been scandalous; but I verily believe I could forgive him any thing and every thing, rather than his disappointing the hopes and disgracing the memory of his father."
6. Sixth place is taken by the wish for a witty retort, rather than the actual presence of wit itself. But it made its place on this list for sheer, straightforward dislike; never one to hide her opinions, Mrs. Bennet says what everyone else is thinking about Mr. Darcy.
"I wish you had been there, my dear, to have given him one of your set downs. I quite detest the man."
5. Next on the list is Mr. Darcy's scathing rejection of Elizabeth. It sets the stage for Elizabeth's dislike of Mr. Darcy, and makes for one of the most #AwkwardMoments in the BBC adaptation. Just imagine Lizzy over-hearing our fifth place pick:
"She is tolerable; but not handsome enough to tempt me."
4. Fourth place goes to Lizzy herself, speaking to Lydia about Lydia's scandalous marriage to Mr. Wickham. Elizabeth shuts the conversation down entirely with this one-liner:
"No really... I think there cannot be too little said on the subject."
3. Taking third place we have an appearance by Lady Catherine de Bourgh, a master of pure disdain. She might not have any influence over Lizzy, but she can sure deliver condescension:
"I take no leave of you, Miss Bennet. I send no compliments to your mother. You deserve no such attention. I am most seriously displeased."
2. Both second and first place go to Miss Elizabeth Bennet, and both come from one of the most famous (or infamous) scenes in Pride and Prejudice: Mr. Darcy's first proposal. In second place is her straight-up rejection:
"You could not have made me the offer of your hand in any possible way that would have tempted me to accept it."
1. There was a lot to chose from in Lizzy's roast of Mr. Darcy. She calls out his arrogance, conceit, and selfish disdain for the feelings of others. But first place goes to the insult that echoes in Colin Firth's mind in the 1995 BBC mini-series adaptation: the implication he has been anything less than a gentleman.
"You are mistaken, Mr. Darcy, if you suppose that the mode of your declaration affected me in any other way, than as it spared me the concern which I might have felt in refusing you, had you behaved in a more gentleman-like manner."
There you have it! Our top picks from Jane Austen's Pride and Prejudice. If this has put you in the mood for more love stories with a bite, check out this list of other downloadable romances with witty dialogue!
Do you love romance? How about when your romance leads say interesting, scintillating, and, dare we say it, even witty things to each other? Read on for some banter-filled romance recommendations! All items are listed in downloadable format.