Asked • 08/10/19

Austen's usage of the word "condescension"?

I looked up the definition of "condescension" both in Merriam-Webster and the Oxford dictionary, both of which imply a negative connotation to the meaning, where the act of emphasizing one's superiority seems important. \n\n\nHowever, in *Pride and Prejudice*, Austen used this in quite a different setting. Mr. Collins often uses this as a seemingly positive adjective to describe Lady Catherine and even in the narrator parts, it is used in a relatively positive light. Out of the several usages, here's an example:\n\n> Mr. Collin's triumph, in consequence of this invitation was complete.\n> The power of displaying the grandeur of his patroness to his wondering\n> visitors, and of letting them see her civility towards himself and his\n> wife, was exactly what he had wished for; and that an opportunity of\n> doing it should be given so soon, was such an instance of Lady\n> Catherine's condescension, as he knew not how to admire enough.\n\n\nAnother example:\n\n> She is all affability and condescension, and I doubt not but you will\n> be honoured with some portion of her notice when service is over\n\n\nI don't understand the meaning in the context here. Is this a known alternative meaning?\n\n

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Elizabeth B. answered • 08/11/19

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