Pride and Prejudice

Caroline Bingley and Darcy discuss their views on what constitutes an "accomplished woman". Through what character does Jane Austen show her point of view on this issue, and what is that point of view?

Chapter 8

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When Elizabeth leaves the dinner table to continue attending to Jane, the Bingley sisters harshly criticize her pride and stubborn independence for having walked to Netherfield alone, but Mr. Bingley and Darcy admire Elizabeth's devotion to Jane. The Bingley sisters also deride the low family connections of Jane and Elizabeth. Bingley does not seem to care about their low connections, although Darcy considers it an impediment to their marrying well. Elizabeth joins the others in the drawing room, and they have a conversation about what it means for a woman to be accomplished. Darcy and Miss Bennett provide such unrealistic criteria that Elizabeth claims she has never seen such a woman in her life. Certainly Austen is sympathetic with Elizabeth. She believed that a woman's worth is not derived from the man she marries. Austen really speaks through her protagonist who believes that women deserve the same respect as men. Austen felt that throwing themselves at men, feigning affection and playing silly games were beneath a woman's honour.