Posted by Kathy F. on July 09, 1997 at 16:16:13:
In reply to Brothers and sisters dancing? posted by Karin on July 09, 1997 at 15:57:18
] I`ve often wondered about the scene in Emma, where Emma says to Mr.Knightley that it`s not improper for them to dance. After all: They`re not brother and sister....
] And then my question is: Was it really improper for brothers and sisters to dance at that time? Why? Was this the case only in regency, or how long did this "restriction" last?
The following is pure supposition, based on my readings of JA's books. In Mansfield Park, Fanny Price dances with her brother, William, when he comes to visit her after almost ten years. They skirt the propriety issue by saying that most of the people at the ball will not know their real relationship, so will think nothing ill of it. Also, the two siblings want to spend much time together, so by dancing together, they are assured of at least some more time than they would have had if they had danced apart. In no other JA book (to the best of my knowledge) do brothers and sisters dance with each other. It is presumable that dancing is an act of courtship, as well as a social function. In most of JA's books, when two people dance together several times in a row, or never dance with others, it is presumed that they are engaged, or seriously heading for it [Bingley and Jane in P&P; James Morland and Isabella in NA]. Obviously, it would be improper for a brother to consider marrying his sister, and so I think it would be similarly improper for him to dance with her.
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