Posted by Cassia on July 10, 1997 at 12:58:24:
In reply to Re: Brothers and sisters dancing? posted by Kathy F. on July 09, 1997 at 16:16:13
] ] 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.
] Kathy F.
IMHO, the problem may have only been brothers and sisters dancing in public because of the dance's role in courtship. You wouldn't want to be perceived of as courting your sibling. That would mean that at private dances at home it would be okay for Fanny to dance with her brother but at the Crown ball Emma dancing first with Frank Churchill then Mr. Knightley can be contrued be the order in which her preferrence lies. This is all untrue but I think that may have been how sit was seen.
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