Such was the argument between Mr. Darcy and Elizabeth Bennet in Jane Austen's Pride and Prejudice (1813). Women's education preceded their entrance into society as marriageable young women of considerable prospects and good breeding.
"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."
"I am no longer surprised at your knowing only six accomplished women. I rather wonder now at your knowing any."
A woman's accomplishments were what set her apart from the others of her set, and mothers sought to make their daughters more eligible through an education built on the acquisition of domestic skills and talents.
Austen's Accomplished Women: Women's Education in Regency England explores the various accomplishments women were required to learn, as depicted in the six novels of Jane Austen. Physical objects and works on paper illustrate the models of successful and unsuccessful women Jane Austen presents in her works. The exhibition analyzes the role of upper and middle class women in Regency society from the perspective of one of the most recognized British authors in history.
"It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a single man in possession of a good fortune, must be in want...