Give Us Pure Hearts

When we think of a Jane Austen heroine in need of sincere repentance, Emma Woodhouse comes to mind. When Emma speaks cruelly to Miss Bates and says she’s dull in front of everyone at Box Hill, we cringe with pain and agony. Austen tells us that in Emma’s moment of irritation, she “could not resist.” She opens her mouth and lets it rip.

Mr. Knightley tells Emma later that it “was badly done . . . in thoughtless spirits, and the pride of the moment, [to] laugh at her” and “humble her.” In response, Emma feels “anger against herself, mortification, and deep concern.” On the ride home, she is “most forcibly struck. The truth of this representation there was no denying. She felt it at her heart. How could she have been so brutal, so cruel to Miss Bates!” Emma spends the evening in serious reflection and visits Miss Bates the next morning to make amends as best she can.

Jane prayed

Look with Mercy on the Sins we have this day committed, & in Mercy make us feel them deeply, that our Repentance may be sincere, and our Resolutions stedfast of endeavouring against the commission of such in future. Teach us to understand the sinfulness of our own Hearts, and bring to our knowledge every fault of Temper and every evil Habit in which we may have indulged to the discomfort of our fellow-creatures, and the danger of our own Souls.


Do you wish you could erase and re-record certain moments in your life when you said or did the wrong thing?


Dodge, Rachel. Praying with Jane: 31 Days through the Prayers of Jane Austen. Baker Publishing Group.

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Rachel Dodge

Rachel Dodge is a Jane Austen scholar and the author of Praying with Jane: 31 Days Through the Prayers of Jane Austen. She teaches college writing and literature classes and gives talks at local book clubs, libraries, and literary groups. Rachel is a regular contributor to Jane Austen’s World blog, Write That Book, Regency World Magazine, and the award-winning Inspire Writers blog. She was the keynote speaker at the Sacramento Public Library’s “How Austentatious!” series, Notable Books series, and 2014 Jane Austen Birthday Tea. Rachel is a graduate of the University of Southern California (B.A. in English and public relations) and California State University, Sacramento (M.A. in English literature). She wrote her Master’s Thesis on etiquette in Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice and won the 2005 Dominic J. Bazzanella Literary Award in non-fiction for “Pictures of (Im)perfection: Jane Austen’s ‘Delightful’ Elizabeth Bennet.” She is an active member of Inspire Writers, JASNA, JASNA Greater Sacramento, the L.M. Montgomery Institute, Write that Book, Literary Life, and several Downton Abbey and Jane Austen fan clubs.