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How to Be A Proper Victorian: Part 1

by Jessa Cunningham, dramaturg Now that you know what the Victorian Era was, it is appropriate that you knew what it was like, particularly for the wealthy. Propriety was of the utmost importance for upper class Victorians, and there were many rules to follow. Every aspect of life had strict rules that must be followed, as they were concerned with how they were perceived. You will get a peak at those in this post, and in the next post you will see how members of the cast handle themselves when I have them follow some of the (sometimes outrageous) rules.

mind-your-manners

General Rules:

  • Learn to deny yourself and prefer others
  • Never speak or act in anger

At a Dinner Party:

  • The room may be lighted with either white or colored candles or lamps. Many prefer to have a portion of the light fall from side brackets or from the wall.
  • No more than two vegetables should be served with each entree and potatoes should not be offered with fish.

On the Street:

  • A gentleman may take two ladies upon his arms, but under no circumstances should the lady take the arms of two gentlemen.
  • No gentleman will smoke when walking with or standing in the presence of a lady standing in the street.
social-agonies

At the Theatre:

  • A gentleman desiring a lady to accompany him to the opera, theatre, or other place of amusement, must send her a written invitation not later than the day previous to the entertainment. It must be written in the third person, upon white note-paper of the finest quality, with an env elope to match.
  • A gentleman accompanying a lady is not bound to give up his seat to another lady. His duty is to the lady he accompanies.

When Visiting:

  • A man should always remain standing as long as there are any women standing in the room.
  • Do not scratch your head or use a toothpick, earspoon or comb.

Breaches of Etiquette:

  • Turn your chair so that your back faces another guest.
  • To stare around a room.

This is just a little taste of the many rules that were strictly followed during this time. When you come to see the show, try to take notice and see if the characters follow some of these points of etiquette!

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