Quick Index Board Index Home FAQ Site Map
|engaged couples and sexual activity
Written by Heather Leigh
(10/8/2009 11:54 a.m.)
in consequence of the missive, Eliza knowing better, penned by Bridget D
This came up in that very interesting Trollope-list discussion of The Small House at Allington -- that in this period, engaged couples were allowed more privacy than courting couples or groups of young people, and that it was tacitly understood that engagement opened the door to physical intimacy and maybe even sex (if a couple were very passionate and/or if the marriage were going to take place soon).
Engagement, especially once it was made public, was considered a binding relationship - effectively a marriage. An engaged couple might put off marrying until they had sufficient income, steady employment, and/or a suitable place to live, but they had committed their hearts and future, and it wasn't surprising if their bodies followed. (It would obviously become a problem if they got pregnant.)
So a SECRET engagement must have put them in an ambiguous state re: how much sexual activity was okay... more than none, but less than all. I imagine it would have been hard to take for long. And it would have given one fiance/e more leverage to push the other into sex.
Somehow I can imagine Lucy pushing Edward sexually! to cement his feeling of connection/obligation to her.
Makes me think of the conversation between Mrs. Croft and Mrs. Musgrove about a LONG or open-ended engagement -- maybe one of the risks there would be that the engaged couple wouldn't be able to keep their sexual relationship in check indefinitely (unless they were living apart).
Groupread is maintained by Myretta with WebBBS 3.21.