1

In chapter 23 of Persuasion by Jane Austen, Anne Elliot and Captain Harville have been discussing whether men or women are more constant in love. Anne says to him:

I hope I do justice to all that is felt by you, and by those who resemble you. God forbid that I should undervalue the warm and faithful feelings of any of my fellow-creatures! I should deserve utter contempt if I dared to suppose that true attachment and constancy were known only by woman. No, I believe you capable of everything great and good in your married lives. I believe you equal to every important exertion, and to every domestic forbearance, so long as—if I may be allowed the expression—so long as you have an object. I mean while the woman you love lives, and lives for you. All the privilege I claim for my own sex (it is not a very enviable one; you need not covet it), is that of loving longest, when existence or when hope is gone.

What is the meaning of the last sentence?

2

That, while men and women can be equally constant and faithful when they have reciprocated love, or hope that their love will be reciprocated , if a man's beloved died, or is otherwise irrevocably lost (married the other guy), his love is more likely to fade and let him love another woman, while a woman's love will remain constant despite the impossibility.

As she observes, this is not a very pleasant situation for the woman to be in.

| improve this answer | |

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.