Last update February 7, 1999

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Links to literary
allusions in
Jane Austen's novels
and film adaptations

Literary allusions in Jane Austen

This comprehensive page lists all works of literature mentioned, quoted or alluded to in Jane Austen's writings.

Jane Austen novel search engine

Search any Jane Austen novel for particular words and phrases.

Sense &

  • Sonnet 116 (CXVI)
    by William Shakespeare
    In the movie, this is Marianne's favorite sonnet which she and Willoughby recite to each other and which she recites as she looks at his home in the rainstorm.
  • Another, more artistic presentation of Sonnet CXVInew
    by Shakespeare
  • Hamlet
    In Ch. 16 of the novel, Mrs. Dashwood remarks that they had not finished reading this play with Willoughby.
  • Selected poems of William Cowper
    Marianne asks Edward to read from him and discusses Cowper with Willoughby when they first meet after her accident. The words Edward reads in the movie are from the end of The Castaway
  • Alexander Pope
    Marianne also determines Willoughby's opinion of this author at their first meeting.
  • Andromaque
    by Jean Racine
    In the movie, Margaret is having a French lesson with Elinor just before the bomb is dropped that Lucy Steele is now Mrs. Ferrars. Margaret can be heard repeating "le destin d'Oreste est de venir sans cesse adorer vos attraits,", which can be found in lines 482 and 483 of Act II, Scene II
  • The Faerie Queene
    by Edmund Spenser
    Colonel Brandon reads this to Marianne in the movie. The exact words read by the Colonel may be found in stanza 39 of Book V, Canto II.
  • Darkwater Librarynew
    Included at this site are Sonnet 116, Lyrics to The Dreame and Weep You No More Sad Fountains, and part of Hartley Coleridge's Sonnet VII, as recited by Marianne in the movie (Is love a fancy or a feeling?)
  • Midi file of Weep You No More Sad

Pride &

  • Evelina
    by Fanny Burney
    Mary's comment in Ch. 47 (or Vol. III, Ch. V) that a women's reputation is "no less brittle than it is beautiful" is taken from the end of Letter 39 in this book, from the Rev. Mr. Villars to the title character.
  • Voi, che sapete
    by Mozart
    This site has a musical clip and notation from this song from The Marriage of Figaro. This is what Lizzy sings at Pemberley in P&P2.


  • Bibliography of Ann Radcliffe
    Ann Radcliffe is the author of The Romance of the Forest, which Harriet recommended to Robert Martin.
  • Short biography of Ann Radcliffe
  • The Vicar of Wakefield by Oliver Goldsmith
    Harriet tells Emma that Robert Martin has read this book.
  • Midsummer Night's Dream, Act I Scene I
    In Ch. 9, after the discussion of riddles and charades leads Emma to conclude that Mr. Elton is in love with Harriet, she quotes:
    "The course of true love never did run smooth"
    which Lysander says to Hermia in this part of the play. Emma adds,
    "A Hartfield edition of Shakespeare would have a long note on that passage."
  • Elegy Written in a Country Church-yard
    by Thomas Gray
    The line "Full many a flower is born to blush unseen", is quoted by Mrs. Elton to Emma as she "quite raves" about poor Jane Fairfax.
    It is in Stanza 14 of the poem.
  • The Hare and Many Friendsnew
    In Vol. III, Ch. 17, Mrs. Elton quotes Lines 41 and 42 in reference to Frank Churchill and Jane Fairfax. Just before quoting, she says, "I forget the poem at this moment", which is obvious for, taken in the context of the poem, it is an extremely inappropriate thing to say.
  • L'Allegro
    by John Milton
    In Volume II, Chapter XVIII, Mrs. Elton somewhat pretentiously quotes this poem to Mr. Weston, saying, "... he was apt to be in despair, and exclaim that he was sure at this rate it would be May before Hymen's saffron robe would be put on for us."
    The lines alluded to are:
    There let Hymen oft appear
    In Saffron robe, with Taper clear,
    And pomp, and feast, and revelry,
    With mask, and antique Pageantry,
    Such sights as youthfull Poets dream
    On Summer eeves by haunted stream.


book and flowers
  • The Lay of the Last Minstrel
    by Sir Walter Scott
    In Chapter 9, while visiting Mr. Rushworth's home at Sotherton, the party tours the chapel. Fanny is disappointed with it, and whispers to Edmund:
    "This is not my idea of a chapel. There is nothing awful here, nothing melancholy, nothing grand. Here are no aisles, no arches, no inscriptions, no banners. No banners, cousin, to be 'blown by the night wind of heaven.'
    She is alluding to these lines:
    Full many a scutcheon and banner riven,
    Shook to the cold night-wind of heaven,
    Around the screened altar's pale
    from Scott's poem.
  • A Sentimental Journey Through France and Italy
    The Hotel at Paris--The Passport
    by Laurence Sterne
    Contains the lines alluded to when Maria Bertram and Henry Crawford are waiting for Mr. Rushworth to return with the key to the gate at Sotherton and Maria says, "'I cannot get out,' as the starling said."
  • Shakespeare comes up numerous times as the young people try to determine which play they would like to perform.
    In Ch. 13, Henry Crawford announces that he "could be fool enough at this moment to take on any character that ever was written, from Shylock (in The Merchant of Venice) or Richard III to the singing hero of a farce in his scarlet coat and cocked hat."
  • Also in Ch. 13, Edmund is certain that their father will disapprove of the amusement, but Tom disagrees, saying: "How many a time have we mourned over the dead body of Julius Caesar and to be'd and not to be'd(Hamlet's famous soliloquy, Act III Scene I) in this very room for his amusement?"
  • In Ch. 14: are all rejected as possible plays to perform.
  • Acting in Mansfield ParK--why is it considered "wrong"?new
  • Richard Brinsley Sheridan
    The young people discuss performing Sheridan's The Rivals and The School for Scandal
  • Synopsis of the play Lovers' Vows
  • In Ch. 34, Henry Crawford reads to Fanny from Henry VIII
    In the BBC adaptation it is from Cardinal Wolsey's speech
    in Act 3 Scene2

    Farewell! a long farewell to all my greatness!


3 books
  • Debrett's Baronetage and Peerage
    Sir Walter reads about his family's lineage over and over in a book like this.
  • An online "Navy list" from the Napoleonic Era
    such as the one the Musgrove girls pull out when Captain Wentworth comes to dine.
  • Exerpts from The Giaour new
    by Lord Byron
    Anne and Captain Benwick discuss this poem.
  • painting
    by Eugene Delacroix--inspired by Byron's "The Bride of Abydos", also mentioned in this discussion
  • Marmion ( Canto 6)
    by Sir Walter Scott
    Another poem from Captain Benwick and Anne's discussion
  • The Lady of the Lake
    by Sir Walter Scott
    In their discussion, Anne and Captain Benwick discuss whether this poem is to be preferred to Marmion, and in the movie, they quote together from Canto 3, Lines 390-393 of this poem.
  • Fare Thee Well
    by Lord Byron
    In the movie, Captain Benwick quotes from the end of this poem just before Anne suggests to him that he might want to read more prose!


Catherine and Henry
Catherine's "Education"


In Chapter 7 the young baronet Sir Edward Denham expounds on his (dubious) taste in literature.
  • Clarissanew
    by Samuel Richardson
    This is just an excerpt from a letter to Lovelace in this book. He is the character referred to "in the line of the Lovelaces".
  • The Pleasures of Hope
    by Thomas Campbell
    Denham says, "Campbell in his Pleasures of Hope has touched the extreme of our Sensations".
    This is an exerpt from the poem, which does not however contain the lines alluded to:"Like angel visits, few and far between."
  • Sir Edward Denham speaks of Robert Burns and his "Lines to his Mary. This could refer to:
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