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Darcy's statement about a "wife of an improved mind" serves two primary purposes: 1) he wishes to praise Elizabeth Bennet through his open admiration of the importance of reading; and 2) to frustrate Miss Bingley. The conversation that takes place between Miss Bingley, Elizabeth, Mr. Bingley, and Darcy concern the attributes of an accomplished woman. Earlier on in the conversation, Miss Bingley had made a little jab at Elizabeth for her predilection of reading over playing cards. Later as Bingley observes that many women of his acquaintance seem so accomplished in their abilities, Miss Bingley jumps in with her requirements of skill and and attributes for a woman to be really considered accomplished. At this moment, Darcy adds his statement:
“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” (Chapter 8).
His contribution immediately casts praise on Elizabeth who was reading earlier and serves to censure Miss Bingley who looked to discredit Elizabeth. Darcy's statement also suggests that he looks for a wife beyond Miss Bingley's simple appraisal of an accomplished woman; he desires one with intelligence and understanding. Darcy's statement reveals that he looks for an intellectual equal in his wife, which if considered carefully, contradicts Elizabeth's perception of his overly proud, haughty demeanor.
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