“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 woman.” “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 by extensive reading.” Mr. Darcy and Miss Bingley seem to be getting their ideas of accomplished women not from real life but from literature. The paragons they describe
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