“They all paint tables, cover skreens, and net purses.
I scarcely know any one who cannot do all this, and I am sure I never heard a young lady
spoken of for the first time, without being informed that she was very accomplished.”
Pride and Prejudice
Early in Pride and Prejudice, when Elizabeth Bennet is staying at Netherfield in order
to attend her sick sister Jane, she takes part in a discussion of “accomplished women.” Mr.
Darcy says he doesn’t know more than six who are “really accomplished,” and Miss Bingley
agrees that she doesn’t either:
“Then,” observed Elizabeth, “you must comprehend a great deal in your idea of an accomplished
“Yes; I do comprehend a great deal in it.”
“Oh! certainly,” cried his faithful assistant, “no one can be really esteemed accomplished,
who does not greatly surpass what is usually met with.
A woman must have a thorough knowledge of music, singing, drawing, dancing, and the modern
languages, to deserve the word; and besides all this, she must possess a certain something in
her air and manner of walking, the tone of her voice, her address and expressions, or the
word will be but half deserved.”
“All this she must possess,” added Darcy, “and to all this she must yet add something more
substantial, in the improvement of her mind
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