Jane Austen Zingers: The 15 Best Disses and One-Liners From ‘Pride and Prejudice’

Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice, published on this day in 1813, is one of the most quotable novels in the English language, full of unforgettably witty repartee that signals attraction, revulsion, maneuvering for power, and more between her characters. To celebrate its birthday, here are 15 of our favorite one-liners from the book, illustrated by thematically (but not chronologically) appropriate GIFs.

Is Pemberley on fire, or did someone just get burned?

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1. Mr. Bennet on Mrs. Bennet’s nerves:

“Mr. Bennet, how can you abuse your own children in such a way? You take delight in vexing me. You have no compassion for my poor nerves.”

“You mistake me, my dear. I have a high respect for your nerves. They are my old friends. I have heard you mention them with consideration these last twenty years at least.”

smelling salts
2. Mr. Darcy’s original stone-cold snub of Lizzy Bennet, to Mr. Bingley:

“She is tolerable, but not handsome enough to tempt me; I am in no humour at present to give consequence to young ladies who are slighted by other men. You had better return to your partner and enjoy her smiles, for you are wasting your time with me.”

darcywontdancesnub

3. Lizzy Bennet to Mr. Darcy on his weaknesses:

“Perhaps that is not possible for anyone. But it has been the study of my life to avoid those weaknesses which often expose a strong understanding to ridicule.”

“Such as vanity and pride.”

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4. Mr. Darcy to Caroline Bingley on the appeal of Lizzy Bennet’s eyes, despite her conceitedly independent choice to walk in ankle-deep mud:

“I am afraid, Mr. Darcy,” observed Miss Bingley in a half whisper, “that this adventure has rather affected your admiration of her fine eyes.”

“Not at all,” he replied; “they were brightened by the exercise.”

lovestruckdarcy

5. Mr. Bennet to Lizzy, after she refuses to marry Mr. Collins:

“An unhappy alternative is before you, Elizabeth. From this day you must be a stranger to one of your parents. Your mother will never see you again if you do not marry Mr. Collins, and I will never see you again if you do.”

mrbennet

6. Lizzy to Caroline Bingley on the matter of George Wickham:

“His coming into the country at all is a most insolent thing, indeed, and I wonder how he could presume to do it. I pity you, Miss Eliza, for this discovery of your favourite’s guilt; but really, considering his descent, one could not expect much better.”

“His guilt and his descent appear by your account to be the same,” said Elizabeth angrily; “for I have heard you accuse him of nothing worse than of being the son of Mr. Darcy’s steward, and of that, I can assure you, he informed me himself.”

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7. Mr. Bennet to Mrs. Bennet on longevity:

“Indeed, Mr. Bennet,” said she, “it is very hard to think that Charlotte Lucas should ever be mistress of this house, that I should be forced to make way for her, and live to see her take her place in it!”

“My dear, do not give way to such gloomy thoughts. Let us hope for better things. Let us flatter ourselves that I may be the survivor.”

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8. Mr. Darcy, in peak jerk mode, even as he proposes to Lizzy:

“Could you expect me to rejoice in the inferiority of your connections?—to congratulate myself on the hope of relations, whose condition in life is so decidedly beneath my own?”

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9. Lizzy to Mr. Darcy on his previous comments:

“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 gentlemanlike manner.”

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10. Mr. Darcy to William Lucas on dancing:

“What a charming amusement for young people this is, Mr. Darcy! There is nothing like dancing after all. I consider it as one of the first refinements of polished society.”

“Certainly, sir; and it has the advantage also of being in vogue amongst the less polished societies of the world. Every savage can dance.”

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11. Darcy to Caroline Bingley on Lizzy’s fine eyes, part II:

“I remember, when we first knew her in Hertfordshire, how amazed we all were to find that she was a reputed beauty…But afterwards she seemed to improve on you, and I believe you thought her rather pretty at one time.”

“Yes,” replied Darcy, who could contain himself no longer, “but that was only when I first saw her, for it is many months since I have considered her as one of the handsomest women of my acquaintance.”

handsomest caroline

12.  Lizzy to her seduction-victim little sister Lydia on finding a spouse:

“And then when you go away, you may leave one or two of my sisters behind you; and I dare say I shall get husbands for them before the winter is over.”

“I thank you for my share of the favour,” said Elizabeth; “but I do not particularly like your way of getting husbands.”

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13. Lizzy to Lady Catherine on whether or not she’ll marry Mr. Darcy. 

“You are then resolved to have him?”

“I have said no such thing. I am only resolved to act in that manner, which will, in my own opinion, constitute my happiness, without reference to you, or to any person so wholly unconnected with me.”

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14.  Lizzy, to Jane, on falling for Mr. Darcy

“My dearest sister, now be serious. I want to talk very seriously. Let me know every thing that I am to know, without delay. Will you tell me how long you have loved him?”

“It has been coming on so gradually, that I hardly know when it began. But I believe I must date it from my first seeing his beautiful grounds at Pemberley.”

wet tshirt

15. Lizzy and Darcy on Lady Catherine’s influence on their love:

I knew enough of your disposition to be certain that, had you been absolutely, irrevocably decided against me, you would have acknowledged it to Lady Catherine, frankly and openly.”

Elizabeth coloured and laughed as she replied, “Yes, you know enough of my frankness to believe me capable of that. After abusing you so abominably to your face, I could have no scruple in abusing you to all your relations.”

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