Friday Fiction (Article Snippet)

So, I have recently been writing about mistresses in the Regency Period for Jane Austen’s Regency World magazine, and I thought I’d share a little bit of it with you for  today’s Friday Fiction. (I continue apparently not to know what ‘fiction’ means.) Here am I wombling on about the difference between mistresses and prostitutes

In the Regency Period (and indeed in other eras) there was a definite difference between a ‘mistress’ and a ‘prostitute’. A mistress belonged to, or was ‘kept’ by, one specific man, whereas a prostitute would have sex with any man for money. Mistresses might be taken up by one man after another, and perhaps have the role of courtesan in between gentleman lovers; however, a mistress was by definition not a prostitute. Whilst it was expected that she would have sex with her lover whenever he required it, she would also be likely to have a social or emotional relationship with the man as well. For the mistress, it was not necessarily a bad choice, though it could have problematic outcomes not only for the lady herself but for her family. For a start, it would be considerably more difficult to marry after having been a mistress: if Darcy hadn’t forced Wickham to marry Lydia Bennet in Pride and Prejudice, it is very unlikely that anyone else would have married her – and the ill reputation would also have fallen upon her sisters.  It also left a woman reliant on the gentleman in question: in Sense and Sensibility, we are shown the downward spiral of Eliza Brandon’s life after her first affair.

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s