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|What does Lucy put in the" Whole Duty of a Man?"(Act I,
Written by JulieW
(2/28/2007 8:07 a.m.)
Lucy. The great one is only The Whole Duty of Man, where I press a few blonds, ma’am.
Lyd. Very well—give me the sal volatile
Blondes were pieces of blonde lace. here are some 18th century examples:
Lucy is using a rather conservative ,traditional book to keep these pieces of lace wrinkle free.
Here’s a picture by Thomas Gainsborough of a woman in mourning form 1770, wearing a froth of blonde lace at her wrist:
However, the book Lucy chooses to use as a press is a rather interesting choice.
The Whole Duty of Man: containing the Faith as well as Practice Of a Christian was a devotional tract written by Richard Allestree( 1619 -1681), who was a Royalist churchman and provost of Eton College.
The book took the extreme position that parental authority in arranging a child's marriage was absolute:
of all the acts of disobedience, that of marrying against the consent of the parent is one of the highest. Children are so much the goods, the possessions of their parents, that they cannot, without a kind of theft, give away themselves without the allowance of those that have a right in them... it belongs to children to perform duty, not only to the kind and virtuous, but even to the harshest and wickedest parent
Which is interesting bearing in mind the plot of this play and is most probably a subtle hint to the audience as to both Lydia and her maid’s priorities in life : they both choose to treat such a book with some contempt and instead of piously reading it ,and accepting its teaching with regard to parental authority, use it to keep lace “nice”…as Henery Tilney would say ;-)
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