Happy Valentine’s Day to all of you – taken, searching, or happily single alike! You all have the same value and worth in God’s eyes; you are not defined by your marital status. Has to be said.
Now on to fun things – my favourite proposal stories! Most of them are in books, some of them are in real life, but I’ll just be sharing the literary ones today. 😉
- Anne Elliot and Frederick Wentworth in Persuasion by Jane Austen – the second, successful one
Secret confession – not actually a 100% Pride and Prejudice fangirl. My secret love is the best love story of all time – Persuasion!
We don’t usually get to hear the words in Jane Austen’s successful proposals. She delights in describing the unsuccessful proposals, the ones that get rejected so eloquently. But when the answer is going to be yes, then Austen only brings the scene to the point of “they both understand each other, at last!” or at least “they both realise their affection for the other” and then moves right along to “My father happily gave his consent and we were married in spring.”
The exception is here, in Persuasion. We get to read the full proposal because she gives us one of the most romantic letters of all time, which has since featured on coffee mugs, book bags and T-shirts, etc.
Written by Frank Wentworth to his beloved Anne Elliot, it describes his feelings in a way that is still expressed today, although in different words, by men everywhere who approach the woman they love unsure whether she’ll say yes or no:
“I can listen no longer in silence. I must speak to you by such means as are within my reach. You pierce my soul. I am half agony, half hope. Tell me not that I am too late, that such precious feelings are gone for ever. I offer myself to you again with a heart even more your own than when you almost broke it, eight years and a half ago. Dare not say that man forgets sooner than woman, that his love has an earlier death. I have loved none but you. Unjust I may have been, weak and resentful I have been, but never inconstant. You alone have brought me to Bath. For you alone, I think and plan. Have you not seen this? Can you fail to have understood my wishes? I had not waited even these ten days, could I have read your feelings, as I think you must have penetrated mine. I can hardly write. I am every instant hearing something which overpowers me. You sink your voice, but I can distinguish the tones of that voice when they would be lost on others. Too good, too excellent creature! You do us justice, indeed. You do believe that there is true attachment and constancy among men. Believe it to be most fervent, most undeviating, in
- Anne and Gilbert in Anne of the Island by L.M. Montgomery – the second one, the successful one
Second favourite love story of all time. I mean come on, “I have loved you since the day you broke your slate over my head in school”? Adorkable!
Gilbert’s second proposal is one of those ones that girls dream about all through our adolescence and keep in the back of our mind and memories even when we are grown women.
“I have a dream,” he said slowly. “I persist in dreaming it, although it has often seemed to me that it could never come true. I dream of a home with a hearth-fire in it, a cat and dog, the footsteps of friends – and you!”
Anne wanted to speak, but she could find no words. Happiness was breaking over her like a wave. It almost frightened her.
“I asked you a question over two years ago, Anne. If I ask it again today will you give me a different answer?”
Still Anne could not speak. But she lifted her eyes, shining with all the love-rapture of countless generations, and looked into his for a moment. He wanted no other answer.
- Landon and Jamie in A Walk to Remember by Nicholas Sparks – successful
Let’s talk about the book, although the movie is equally worth the attention!
It’s not the fact that their love is doomed from the start and that is the traditional genre of “tragically romantic”. It’s the fact that their love transcends all of the circumstances. Their love transformed both of their lives and grew them into better and stronger people who were free to live their lives to the full, right to the end.
For me that’s always been the goal – what to look for in a relationship. They make you want to be a better person, and they find themselves becoming a better person when they’re with you. If you haven’t found that yet, folks, keep looking. Nothing else is worth the wait.
“Do you love me?” I asked her.
She smiled. “Yes.”
“Do you want me to be happy?” As I asked her this, I felt my heart beginning to race.
“Of course I do.”
“Will you do something for me, then?”
She looked away, sadness crossing her features. “I don’t know if I can anymore,” she said.
“But if you could, would you?”
… “Yes,” she finally said, her voice weak yet somehow full of promise. “I would.”
… “Will you marry me?”
- Rhett Butler and Scarlett O’Hara in Gone With the Wind by Margaret Mitchell – unsuccessful
Shortly after Scarlett’s husband dies, Rhett proposes, like the cad he is. Shocked and offended, she says no. He kisses her. She says yes.
“My news is this,” he answered, grinning down at her. “I still want you more than any woman I’ve ever seen and now that Frank’s gone, I thought you’d be interested to know it.”
Scarlett jerked her hands away from his grasp and sprang to her feet.
“I–you are the most ill-bred man in the world, coming here at this time of all times with your filthy–I should have known you’d never change. And Frank hardly cold! If you had any decency– Will you leave this–”
“Do be quiet or you’ll have Miss Pittypat down here in a minute,” he said, not rising but reaching up and taking both her fists. “I’m afraid you miss my point.”
“Miss your point? I don’t miss anything.” She pulled against his grip. “Turn me loose and get out of here. I never heard of such bad taste. I–”
“Hush,” he said. “I am asking you to marry me. Would you be convinced if I knelt down?” … “Say you’ll marry me when I come back or, before God, I won’t go. I’ll stay around here and play a guitar under your window every night and sing at the top of my voice and compromise you, so you’ll have to marry me to save your reputation.”
She says yes, and Rhett says he’s got to leave for a long trip but they’ll get married the second he returns.
Why couldn’t Scarlett just focus on their marriage more so they could stay together in the end and redeem this awful, awful book??? Almost as bad as Vanity Fair. Ugh. Some “classics”. Classically depressing, that’s what.
- The shepherd and his lover in The Passionate Shepherd to His Love by Christopher Marlowe
This sensual poem by Shakespeare’s #1 rival, the infamous Kit Marlowe, might not be a marriage proposal per se, but it is definitely a proposal to spend their lives together. The repeated refrain “Come live with me and be my love.” is the line that ties the whole poem together.
The shepherds’ swains shall dance and sing
For thy delight each May morning:
If these delights thy mind may move,
Then live with me and be my love.
- Jo and Laurie in Little Women by Louisa May Alcott
So sad! So lovely! So filled with youthful passion and hopes and dreams dashed.
Now, we all know these two absolutely should have ended up together, but… Jo ended just as well with Professor Baer – with rather fewer angry fights and less drama than she would’ve had married to Teddy!
Something in his resolute tone made Jo look up quickly, to find him looking down at her with an expression that assured her the dreaded moment had come, and made her put out her hand with an imploring –
“No, Teddy, —- please don’t!”
“I will; and you must hear me. It’s no use, Jo; we’ve got to have it out, and the sooner the better for both of us.”
- Jane and Mr Rochester in Jane Eyre – the second one, the one where he’s not a bigamist
I appreciate this proposal because they’re finally equals. They both need each other as much as the other needs them. They are both free to marry. (The first time Rochester proposed, he was already married to an insane woman that he kept locked in the attic. Awkward.)
The book ends with a satisfying anti-climax. (Which may sound like an oxymoron, but is really just a paradox. 😉 )
“Reader, I married him.”
- My love story
For the record, when Tim asked me, my answer was:
“Yes, of course!”
What’s your favourite adorkable literary proposal story?
This post was written by TJ Withers-Ryan © 2015. Reblogging is always highly encouraged as long as you credit me as the author.