Dating and marriage in the victorian era

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Women often carried these fans to avoid fainting in hot ballrooms — which, given the prevalence of corsets and tight gowns, was a more commonplace event than you might think.Should they have their breath stolen by a potential suitor — well, that was a whole ‘nother challenge.Phegley examines the alternative courtship practices facilitated by a swath of periodicals, including advice for readers unable to afford conduct books in “Letters to Correspondents” sections; “clandestine” communications printed in the “agony columns” that titillated elite readers of the ; and personal ads published in a variety of domestic and match-making magazines, whose editors occasionally facilitated the exchange of letters and photographs between advertisers of similar class and social status (78).Phegley profiles modern courtships (including the development of the telegraphic romance) that relied on advances in publishing, advertising, and communication systems to create connections in an “increasingly [End Page 503] alienated society at odds with the traditional, orderly, hierarchical image of courtship represented in conduct books” (106).The Victorians weren’t exactly known for bringing sexual liberation to the masses — but that doesn’t mean that they didn’t have carnal desires.In fact, the buttoned-up repression we often associate with the Victorian era misses the fact that Victorians were pretty creative when it came to inventing ways to get around sexual restraint, especially in the sphere of dating.Jennifer Phegley explores complicated messages regarding courtship and marriage in the Victorian period that “are supposed to be based on real feelings of affection and love, but . Phegley juxtaposes the pervasive “aspiration to achieve companionate marriage based on mutual affection, respect and love” with the shifting landscape of marital law that exposed the embedded inequalities in marriage (27).

And typically, an event known as The Season precipitated all the upper-crust matches that would lead to these arrangements.Some men had cards made for the express purpose of clandestine flirting, and would pass them to a woman without anyone noticing.Unless and until the female recipient read the card, its true message would remain a mystery.As a consequence, young Victorians who wanted to get to know one another, beyond their respective worths’ and family lineage, devised covert tactics to have conversations without speaking.The woman’s hand fan proved to be a useful, inconspicuous tool to do so.

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