Posted by Cindy on September 26, 1997 at 08:41:44:
In response to Coming out, written by Caroline on September 25, 1997 at 08:40:40
] A girl "coming out" meant that she was officially recognised as being grown-up, of marriageable age. Before coming out she wouldn't have gone to assemblies, big parties etc. For those that were grand enough, "coming out " would involve being presented at court(i.e. they would be debutantes)
] Since the process involved quite a bit of expense, most families would only have one or two daughters on the marriage market at a time. The fact that the Bennets have five could be seen as a sign of their desperation!
] There was no particular date for coming out. Lydia is fifteen, Jane is twenty-one or twenty-two, at the beginning of the story. However, I would say that Lydia is probably rather younger than most young women who are "out".
Around my neck of the woods, there is still a big (very big!) Hispanic custom to celebrate a girl's "coming out" with a Quinceañera - not much unlike a wedding celebration, complete with a Mass, an escort, and sometimes very large numbers of paired-up attendants. Our local archbishop has urged the families with daughters to reconsider this, pointing out that the "presentation" aspect reinforces the view of the young women as prizes to be won. It also seems a bit silly as many of the girls have already been dating. His suggestion to those considering throwing such a celebration is to take the money that would be spent (quite a sum, in many cases!) and put it into a fund to be used for the girl's college education.
I don't know how many local families have been dissuaded by his comments, but as he is Mexican-American himself, I imagine his views carry a bit of weight.
While I know this doesn't address the custom in Regency England, Caroline, nearly everything you mentioned above had such a familiar ring to it!
Posting followups to old messages is disabled; instead go to the main index and post a new message which mentions this one.