Wannabe Martha

Still trying to figure out which Martha

The Comprehension of Accomplishment

on October 17, 2013

Excerpt from Pride and Prejudice, by Jane Austen, Chapter 8… in the drawing room at Netherfield…

                “It is amazing to me,“ said Bingley, “how young ladies can have patience to be so very accomplished as they all are.”

                “All young ladies accomplished!  My dear Charles, what do you mean?”

                “Yes, all of them, I think.  They all paint tables, cover screens, 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.”

                “Your list of the common extent of accomplishments,” said Darcy, “has too much truth.  The word is applied to many a woman who deserves it no otherwise than by netting a purse or covering a screen.  But I am very far from agreeing with you in your estimation of ladies in general.  I cannot boast of knowing more than half-a-dozen, in the whole range of my acquaintance, that are really accomplished.”

                “Nor I, I am sure,“ said Miss Bingley.

                “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 really be 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 the voice, her address and expression, or the word will be but half-deserved.”

                “All this she must possess,” added Darcy, “and to all this she must add something more substantial, in the improvement of her mind by extensive reading.”

                “I am no longer surprised at your knowing only six accomplished women.  I rather wonder now at your knowing any.”




2 responses to “The Comprehension of Accomplishment

  1. FuzzieWuzzie says:

    If I remember correctly, didn’t Mr. Darcy end up being smitten by Elizabeth? It seems that his list of accomplishment neglected the intangibles.
    Colin Firth did a great job with that role.

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