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Social Etiquette: How to conduct oneself

Using Jane Austen as a primary source for social etiquette in the Regency era.

Robyn Laughlin

on 25 October 2012

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Transcript of Social Etiquette: How to conduct oneself

By: Emily Wei &
Robyn Laughlin Social Etiquette:
How to conduct oneself Expectations for social behavior according to contemporary conventional norms within a society, social class, or group. What is Social Etiquette? Pride and Prejudice
Caroline Bingley on Elizabeth- “ ‘ To walk three miles, or four miles, or five miles, or whatever it is, above her ankles in dirt, and alone, quite alone! What could she mean by it? It seems to me to show an abominable sort of conceited independence, a most country –town indifference to decorum.” (V1 C 8) Basic Etiquette for Women Dressing for the task
Breakfast, Lunch
Walking, Riding, Travel
Dances Appearance Why is it important? By following the rules of society and presenting oneself as befitting of the class, allowed access into proper social circles.
To obtain a desirable mate and increase ones sphere of influence through marriage.
Provided guidelines for courtship and marriage. "The choice of gown, or even the folding and sealing of a letter, will bespeak the shrew and the scold, the careless and the negligent.” - Regency Etiquette Late 18th century & the Regency Era:
1795-1830 The Regency Era differs from the eras before and after it because it was more lax in it's customs and it saw many changes in all facets of society. There were mad kings and political struggles around the world, new literary styles, and controversial fashion developments. Never:
Travel unescorted - whether walking or in a coach
Correspond with a man until there is a formal engagement
Call on a Gentleman unless it is business related
Be alone with a man if unmarried or under thirty Basic Carriage Coming Out "Cheerfulness is becoming to all times of life, but sportiveness belongs to youth alone;..." - Regency Etiquette Female Virtues:
Beauty = "blessing to be used with discretion"
Simplicity = elegance
Consistency Female Character:
Beauty, Virtue and Charm A lady should follow three rules at all times regardless of age; showing temperance, cleanliness and exercise. The exercise should be light and done outside daily (morning walks, horseback riding). According to age:
A mature woman should not skip or play.
She should glide gracefully, head high, back straight
A young girl may have a "buoyant step"
She should not exaggerate her state to be perceived as older or higher classed The voice:
Clear enunciation
Soft and Musical in tone
Calculated - Who you are talking to
Temperance in conversation - no excessive rambling Before Presentation:
Schooling - Music, Drawing, Needlework
Lowest rank among other women
Dinners/Events - must not speak unless spoken to; yes or no answers only
No active social status Calls and Visits "Morning Calls"
Most often done by women
Usually begins in the afternoon
Expected to perform multiple calls each day - 15 minute courtesy stay
Polite conversation only
Reasons: marriage, death, birth, social, business Gender Interactions Northanger Abbey
Mr. Allen to Catherine- “These schemes are not at all the thing. Young men and women driving about the country in open carriages! Now and then it is very well; but going to inns and public places together! It is not right; and I wonder Mrs. Thorpe should allow it. I am glad you do not think of going; I am sure Mrs. Morland would not been pleased.’” (V1 Ch13) Limitations Of Jane Austen as a primary source Men in Her Literature
- Appearance
- Interactions
- Conduct Pride and Prejudice
-[Lady Catherine] “…Are any of your younger sisters out, Miss Bennet?”
-“Yes, Ma’am, all.”
- “All!-What, all five out at once? Very odd!-And you only the second.-The younger ones out before the elder are married!”( v.2 c.6 ) Mansfield Park
Ms. Crawford on being out” ‘Till now, I could not have supposed it possible to be mistaken as to a girl’s being out or not. A girl not out, has always the same sort of dress; a close bonnet for instance, looks very demure, and never says a word.” (V1 C5) Presentation and After:
Announcement of marriageability
New mature style of clothes, hair and manners to be adopted
Attendance at Balls and dances
Courtships Northanger Abbey
“What gown and what head-dress she should wear on the occasion became her chief concern. She cannot be justified in it. Dress is at all times a frivolous distinction, and excessive solicitude about it often destroys its own aim. Catherine knew all this very well; her great aunt had read her a lecture on the subject only the Christmas before; and yet she lay awake ten minutes on Wednesday night debating between her spotted and her tamboured muslin, and nothing but the shortness of the time prevented her buying a new one for the evening. (V1 C10) Accessories Styles
Fabrics "...the secret to dressing lies in simplicity and a certain adaption to your figure, your rank, your circumstances." Regency Etiquette Sir Walter to Anne Elliot in Persuasion
“ In the course of the same morning, Anne and her father chancing to be alone together, he began to compliment her on her improved looks; he thought her ‘less thin in her person, in her cheeks; her skin, her complexion, greatly improved-clearer, fresher. Had she been using anything in particular?’ ‘No, nothing.’ “Merely Gowland,’ he supposed. ‘No, nothing at all.’ ‘Ha! He was surprised at that;’ and added, ‘Certainly you cannot do better than to continue as you are; you cannot be better than well; or I should recommend Gowland, the constant use of Gowland, during the spring months. Mrs. Clay has been using it at my recommendation, and you see what it has done for her. You see how it has carried away her freckles.’ “(Ch16) Cosmetics -Jewelry -Hair -Gloves -Shoes
-Coats, covers and parasols Powder and Rouge Creams:
Facial care Class Interaction
Making Acquaintances: A Social Endorsement Pride and Prejudice
“Elizabeth tried hard to dissuade him from such a scheme; assuring him that Mr. Darcy would consider his addressing him without introduction as an impertinent freedom, rather than a compliment to his aunt…it was not in the least necessary there should be any notice on either side, and that if it were, it must belong to Mr. Darcy, the superior in consequence, to begin the acquaintance.” ( v.1 c.18 page 68) The superior must initiate or be asked beforehand if (s)he wished to be introduced
Mutual acquaintances act as "sponsors" - introduce newcomer to social sphere
Superior's choice to further acquaintanceship or not Dinners Pride and Prejudice
Lydia upon entering the dining parlour “ Ah! Jane, I take your place now, and you must go lower, because I am a married woman.” – (V.3. C.9) Huge ordeal- From preparation to end
Invited the right guests
Matching the guests - Hierarchy, Gender
Menu & Table decor - showing off
Events of the evening
Tea and cigars following meal
Attend dances for the remainder of the night Leaving Cards
Requesting an invitation for a call or visit
How someone announces they are in town/leaving town
A married woman would leave one with her name for the Lady and two of her husbands name for the Man and the Lady
The woman waits in carriage while the footman delivers the cards
Lady of the house may be at home but not "at home" Courtship
Elopement Conduct:
Many basic etiquette rules had to do with gender interaction Balls and Dancing Pride and Prejudice
Mrs. Bennet to Mr. Bennet – “ ‘ …we had a most delightful evening, a most excellent ball. I wish you had been there. Jane was so admired, nothing could be like it. Everybody said how well she looked; and Mr. Bingley thought her quite beautiful, and danced with her twice! Only think of that, my dear; he actually danced with her twice!’ “(V1 C 4) Conduct:
Formal attire - Men and women must wear gloves
Unmarried women must come with a chaperone
Must not share more than two dances with the same person Chaperoning:
Any woman of higher rank than her charges
Any unmarried women still in courtship age required to have one Class Interactions
- Servants
- Nobility Seasons in the Cities “Beauty of a person will ever be found a dead letter, unless it be animated with beauty of mind.” The Hierarchy of Age, Marital Status, and Social Status Among women:
Higher class above all
Unmarried vs. Married
Mature woman over youth Conclusion Edmund Burke, Whig statesman in 1795
“The law touches us but here and there, and now and then. Manners are what vex and soothe us, corrupt or purify, exalt or debase, barbarize or refine us, by a constant, steady, uniform, insensible operation, like that of the air we breathe in. They give their whole form and colour to our lives.”
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