A Proper Victorian Marriage Proposal

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A Proper Marriage Proposal Mr. Bradley Headstone, steadfast and uncontrolled, was met with denial from his beloved. By examining the etiquette apropos of an acceptable Victorian marriage proposal, and the social “rules” associated with courtship, we may understand the failure of Headstone’s hasty attempt at love. A Note on Love, and Falling “Love,” and the expression of it, in the Victorian Era was characterized by strict social etiquette and idealized expectations. Courtship was fundamental to the process of falling in love, and in fact, for the upper and middle classes, it was this systematic structure that allowed for the love and union of two people to be acceptable. A member of society could not fall into a fit of passion for another, express it freely, and expect an agreeable response. There was an admirable and proper way for a man to attain a wife. In general, for Victorians, the process of falling in love by means of courtship was a pleasant process if the proper measures of propriety were taken. Pre-Proposal Matters A gentleman, upon determining a marriage prospect, bears in mind several key features that constitute an ideal lady and wife. For the “stream of matrimony” to be ventured upon, an essential partner must possess these qualities- accomplished manners, be an amiable person, have an unblemished reputation, and “a mind stored with virtuous principles” (Lessels 25). Once this is determined and he feels love for the woman, the gentleman decides to proceed with the proposal process. The most important thing for a gentleman to do, once he has chosen a prospect, is to allow himself to reveal to the lady his character. “Some men…may have all the traits of a gentleman- a handsome exterior, and well skilled ... ... middle of paper ... ...ue of monetary standing also comes into play after the proposal. In the dealings of settling the family’s and the upcoming couple’s finances, “let candor and generosity actuate you in this difficult transaction” (48). The Victorians allowed even love to be dictated by strict social order and control. However, it was still idealized as a blissful and ultimate convention. If all matters of propriety were considered, and if all is executed accordingly, “we will assume these rocks and quicksands past, the engaged couple happy, and the wedding day at hand…” (Humphry 110). Works Cited Hill, Averyl. Averyl’s Attic. Averyl's Attic Design, Images & Text. 16 Mar 2005. . Humphry, Mrs. Manners for Men. London: Pryor Publications, 1993. Lessels, Julie. The Etiquette of Love and Courtship. Sussex: Copper Beech Publishing, 1995.
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