Jane Austen fans: Correct me if I'm wrong...

…but I think that Mr. Bennet in Pride and Prejudice is the only character in any of her novels who intentionally makes humorous remarks. He’s certainly the only one who regularly does it, but I can’t recall anyone else in the six novels who says anything even mildly funny on purpose. Mild sarcasm, perhaps, but nothing really funny.

Or am I mistaken?

Eh, I would argue that some of the dialogue between Mr. Knightly and Emma Woodhouse is meant to be humorous (in a dry sense), if only Mr. Knightly seems to be aware of it.

And there’s Henry Tilney in Northanger Abbey; he likes to make humorous remarks. He’s not as dry as Mr. Bennet or Mr. Knightley. Elizabeth Bennet has some good lines too, IMO.

Mary Crawford in Mansfield Park also has a quip or two. It’s not every Austen character that gets to make a sodomy joke about the Royal Navy.

That’s my favourite line!! I just about fell out of my chair laughing the first time I was old enough to understand it.

As to the question, I think a lot of the time unsympathetic female characters make arch remarks (like the obnoxious Caroline Bingley) they’re shooting for humourous, if catty. It just depends on whether, like the lovely but bad Miss Crawford their creator bestowed them with enough brains to hit the mark.

Henry Tilney was the first to come to my mind. Both Crawfords are witty and clever. And several of Austen’s ‘rattles’ (superficial young men) have lines that have always amused me, anyway. Specifically, John Thorpe, who greets his mother with: “Where did you get that quiz of a hat? It makes you look like an old witch?” Cracks me up every time.

Can you remind me of that one?

I’ll admit to not being as familiar with MP as I am with P&P, S&S, and Emma. I may have only read MP twice, the others at least four times each.

It’s in Chapter 6. Quoth Mary:

When I first read this about 20 years ago, I wondered if she was actually making the joke I thought she was making, or if it was just my modern, filthy mind. Later on in life, I learned it wasn’t just me, and Mary Crawford was indeed making the joke I thought she was.

I think Eliza Bennet makes some comments that are meant to be humorous, whether or not they make any specific reader laugh, as whether something is funny varies.

For instance, she jokes to Jane that she started loving Darcy when she saw Pemberley. And she has a fair number of comments that are witty. Like her observation on why Darcy isn’t better at talking to people he doesn’t know.

Yes, I read that just last night (after posting the OP). Then, after Jane has become engaged, but before Mr. Darcy has proposed, she tells Jane that “Perhaps, if I have very good luck, I may meet with another Mr. Collins in time.”

She is clearly her father’s daughter.

There is a scene (part of book) --I think it’s S&S, where Eleanor is described as agreeing to everything that X says, since he is so silly and witless that he doesn’t deserve intelligent dissent. Or words to that effect.

It might be in P&P-if so, sub Eliza for Eleanor. It takes place on a dance floor–pretty sure it’s Eleanor.
Did that help?


Eh? That’s a sodomy joke? It sounds more like she’s calling them asses. Especially because she then refers to it as a pun.