Great love stories have great rejection scenes. A great romance involves some kind of adversity, and a few rejections thrown in the story arc always seem to do the trick. I couldn’t narrow down my favorite rejection scene to one passage from a novel, so I decided to show you my favorite proposal refusals from movie adaptations. Most of these do not follow the book version to the letter, but they all capture the intent and spirit of the novel. And I love them!
Here we go. Let the heart stomping begin.
First up, Most Innocent: Jo’s rejection of Laurie in Little Women. Poor Laurie. First, he has to deal with a girl’s name, and now this. The first love seems to be the hardest.
Most Awkward: Mr. Collins and his proposal to Elizabeth Bennet in Pride and Prejudice (Seriously, the most painful and hilarious five minutes. I always get embarrassed for other characters, and this scene makes me positively squirmy.)
Most Gut-Wrenching: Miss Margaret Hale’s rejection of Mr. Thornton in Elizabeth Gaskell’s North and South. I cannot watch this scene without tearing up. If you’ve never seen this series, I highly recommend it.
And finally, The Most Famous (for good reason): Elizabeth Bennet’s initial rejection of Mr. Darcy. The gold standard in proposal rejections. (Yes, I’m including two scenes from the same movie. It’s my list. Thank you.)
What makes proposals gone wrong so romantic?