"Death cancels all engagements."

This is perhaps the most famous quotation in the novel. Not only is it comical in itself, it caricatures the era’s attitude to social politeness.


Similar topsy-turvy politeness was used to comic effect by several English novelists of the age. For example, P.G. Wodehouse’s Bertie Wooster would find himself engaged because he was too polite to inform the lady in question of his lack of desire to wed.