(from guest blogger Eliza Shearer)
Several words pop up all the time in Jane Austen’s novels: ‘fine,' ‘nice,' ‘civil,' ‘pleasant’ and ‘elegant’ immediately come to mind. But my personal favourite is ‘accomplished,' a word that comes up over and over again, particularly when referring to young ladies.
While in the XVIII century the education of young women of genteel families left a lot to be desired, in the Regency there was a renewed interest in cultivating the mind and spirit of girls. For girls, being accomplished became a positive trait, and one that could lead to a good marriage. Jane Austen herself benefited from an open-minded approach to female education, and her father’s extensive and fascinating library was as open as Mr Bennet’s.