"'You would like to be a lady?'"

The term ‘lady’ carried particular social connotations in the nineteenth century. It was not only an aristocratic title, but could indicate more generally a woman of good breeding – a gentlewoman. 

The definition of a gentlewoman was fluid, but might include a lady of high birth, a woman who attended a great lady, or simply a woman with genteel manners and a high standard of behaviour. It seems the aspiring middle classes were more concerned with such titular details than were their aristocratic peers.