marycatelli (marycatelli) wrote,

ruined forever!

Read a story set in an alternate Regency, lately.

During which the story of a young woman led astray by a cad.  He's still acceptable in Society, of course, but she was cast out by her family onto the streets.

Which had me eying it.  Sir Thomas Bertram's very severe stand on his daughter who eloped with another man after her marriage was that he would never take her back into the family home.  And that was justified by his having inviting Fanny's sister Sally to live there, a young and impressionable girl.  And Colonel Brandon provided for the illegitimate daughter of his childhood sweetheart, even after her seduction and having a child.  Didn't let her meet anyone in society.  But out on the street in the best Victorian melodrama tradition was not in the cards.

Dumas described such women -- because of a scandal and the absence of a husband, banished from society or le monde, but not having recourse to even being a courtesan -- as the demimonde.  The term got quickly turned to mean kept women, but he meant the women who didn't opt for that after the scandal.  Apparently there were enough to coin a term.

Even in the Victorian era, even in classes lower than that, a lot of them were generally packed off to distant relatives -- or packed themselves off -- and passed themselves off as widows.  Jokes might be made out being widowed in the grass, but the number of widows floating about seems demographically implausible without such a contrivance.

Of course, young women might be told she was cast into the streets, to dissuade them.  hmmm. . . .
Tags: families: parent/child, the past is a different country

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