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?


1 Answer 1


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.

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