Free Research Paper On Dances And Courtships: An Analysis Of The Role Of Dancing In The Georgian Society

Type of paper: Research Paper

Topic: Dance, Dancing, Love, Cheek, Women, People, Society, Public

Pages: 3

Words: 825

Published: 2021/02/20

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Jane Austen’s novels provided many scholars an in-depth analysis of the Georgian customs. Although for the modern people, the word ‘Regency’ era was highly associated with frilly gowns, decadence, and romance which was a stereotype of the era. Very few can afford romance since the ton did not approve marriages outside their social caste. To them, marrying another below one’s social status was considered improper. As a carte blanche, although the Regency society observed strict manners and social conducts, dancing became an integral part of the courtships. Austen gives her readers a charming illustration about the Georgian society. Darcy met Elizabeth at the ball in Netherfield; Catherine Morland flirted with Henry Tilney in their dance together; whilst Emma realized her deepening love for Mr. Knightley during her dance with Mr. Churchill. The majority of Austen’s characters met their partners through social events or balls; although with the exception of her novel Persuasion, According to various scholars such as Mary Bonwick, Charles Rzepka, and Joshua Masters, Austen neglected the dance theme for Anne and even commented that she [Anne] was “a heroine without a ball” (quoted from Wilson, 55). Due to the rise of the middle class families in the Regency Era, the power of the nobility and even the clergy were reduced; unlike in the Middle Ages, the wealthy commoners who lacked titles can have themselves acquainted with the ton.
Dances became the public entertainment of the ton and the commoners. Therefore, balls both private and public were fashionable among the people not only because it allowed the opposite sex to interact with each other, but also it allows the society to observe and reprimand those who are not following the right etiquette. Aside from dancing, balls also held humorous entertainments; as mentioned by Austen in Pride and Prejudice, Mr. Collins greeted Mr. Darcy and praised him for being the nephew of his patroness, Lady Catherine de Bourgh. Although Mr. Collin’s action was triggered by rightful intentions, to some people such as Miss Bingley remarked to Elizabeth that she had a ‘unique’ family; a sarcastic and almost an insult to her [Elizabeth] and Mr. Collins. If the 21st century has nightclubs, the Regency folks have Almack’s. To be included in the Almack’s list was so prestigious that some people commemorate their experiences and emotions by writing poems about the place. According to British historian Lucy Worsley, Almack’s prestige for courtship was popular in the 1800’s that people often wrote poems usually without printed names for privacy.
“All in this magic list depends; Fame, fortune, fashion, lovers, friends. But if once to Almack’s you belong; like monarchs you can do no wrong!” (Worsley and Goodman, Dancing Cheek to Cheek”).
Almack’s is the Netherfield Hall in reality. It was a club established in 1765 and located at St. James’ in London. Dancing events held in public balls such as the Almack’s were often supervised by extremely well-connected ladies called ‘patronesses.’ These women were highly influential that historian and biographer Jenny Uglow considered them as the ‘feminine force’ in the male world because they can create or break a possible romantic match (Worsley and Goodman, “Dancing Cheek to Cheek”). Daughters and gentlemen from wealthy families and wealthy commoners subscribed to the Almack’s list for an invitation. The aristocrats preferred going to these events to communicate with old acquaintances and to meet prospective partners. Regency Era mothers often coveted for bachelors a la Mr. Darcy for their daughters; just like Mrs. Bennet when she stated her desire to see her daughters “equally well married” (Austen and Jennings, 7). Courtship often starts with dances because it is an intimate way of exchanging conversations with the opposite sex. Men and women in the Georgian Era were forbidden to stay together without some accompaniment of an elderly and reputable woman. Even Jane Austen herself was so convinced that there was indeed a nexus between dancing and courtship when she stated her opinions in Northanger Abbey through Henry Tilney:
“I consider a country-dance as an emblem of marriage. Fidelity and complaisance are the principal duties of both; and those men who do not choose to dance or marry themselves, have no business with the partners or wives of their neighbors (Austen, 87-88).
Dances invoke a sensual pleasure to couples because of it provides them the opportunity to remain locked in one’s embraces. One of the most common Regency period dances was the Cotillion which was normally performed by four couples in square formation. However, this dance prevented the couple from having close intimacy unlike the waltz. In 1814, there was a decline amongst ball-goers which made the patronesses alarmed; thus, they allowed waltz to be performed in public ball despite disapproval of the Church (Worsley and Goodman, “Dancing Cheek to Cheek”). Compared to other dances, the waltz allowed couples to gaze at each other’s eyes whilst spinning according to the flow of music. In public dance gatherings, this was the only time that men and women were allowed such physical intimacy without raising suspicious gossip. Conversation, drinking, and traditional dancing were the highlights of public balls. Through conversation, men can freely choose which amongst the females in the room is suitable for a wife. To become an eligible lady, families flaunted their daughters’ dowries which are actually a money equivalent to a fortune which will be given to the husband upon marriage. In the Regency society, dancing is equal to getting ‘married’ due to the physical intimacy it demands from the couples. It is not surprising that the rigid Georgian society might find some of them repulsive or scandalous. Today in the 21st century, dancing is still regarded as a source of fun and entertainment but it became less formal and became wilder and bolder than ever. Dancing played an important role in forming marriages and excellent alliances because it allowed people to socialize with each other and to become intimate with their dancing partners.

Works Cited

Adkins, Roy and Lesley Adkins. Jane Austen’s England. New York: Penguin Group, 2013. Kindle Book.
Austen, Jane. Northanger Abbey. 1818. Boston: Roberts Brothers Publishers, 1892. Print.
Austen, Jane and Linda Jennings. Pride and Prejudice. London: Penguin Group, 1995. Print.
Wilson, Cheryl. “Dance, Physicality, and Social Mobility in Jane Austen’s Persuasion.” Jane Austen Society of North America 25. (N.d.): 55-75, Web. PDF File.
Worsley, Lucy and Len Goodman. “Dancing Cheek to Cheek: An Intimate History of Dance Episode 2 Revolution on the Dance Floor.” Online video clip. YouTube. YouTube, 25 Nov. 2014. Web. 14 Apr. 2015.

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WePapers. (2021, February, 20) Free Research Paper On Dances And Courtships: An Analysis Of The Role Of Dancing In The Georgian Society. Retrieved June 13, 2021, from https://www.wepapers.com/samples/free-research-paper-on-dances-and-courtships-an-analysis-of-the-role-of-dancing-in-the-georgian-society/
"Free Research Paper On Dances And Courtships: An Analysis Of The Role Of Dancing In The Georgian Society." WePapers, 20 Feb. 2021, https://www.wepapers.com/samples/free-research-paper-on-dances-and-courtships-an-analysis-of-the-role-of-dancing-in-the-georgian-society/. Accessed 13 June 2021.
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