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Written by Mary Anne
(4/27/2010 8:27 a.m.)
in consequence of the missive, goals of girls' education (from Ch. 8), penned by Heather Leigh
It's interesting that you bring up Caroline's earlier talk about what constitutes an accomplished woman: " . . . a thorough knowledge of music, singing . . ." etc. As I think I mentioned earlier, one might have knowledge of these things without being able to actually do the things. I have plenty of knowledge of opera, but don't ask me to sing it! It's just barely possible that Lady Catherine does have some enjoyment of music and taste in it, but of course her bragging makes her look ridiculous: " . . . I should have been a great proficient."
So it is with her comment to Lizzy that she can never hope to play well without plenty of practice. Speaking as a former piano student, I can attest to the truth of that---and once again, JA places a truthful statement in the mouth of a very silly character. But then Lady C spoils the effect with her rudeness in offering Lizzy the use of the piano where she will not disturb anyone. Tsk.
I just love all the undercurrents in these conversations about accomplishments---Caroline's schemes to show up Lizzy, Lady Catherine's self-importance, and so forth. So far, the main point about accomplishments seems to be that they're useless without the improvement of the mind and soul, and (sorry, Darcy) it requires more than simply extensive reading. Mary reads a great deal and practices her piano diligently, but her mind and soul still need a lot of work. I think we see a bit in the scenes at Lady Catherine's about how open one is to the prospect of improvement. Darcy shows signs of thawing out; Lizzy frankly acknowledges that she doesn't play as well as some because she doesn't apply herself to practice. They are the ones who might achieve some "accomplishment" in areas that matter.
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