Ladies and Gentelmen
Submitted By bethanysolito
Ladies and Gentlemen
While many believe that the idea of chivalry is dead, and that noble ladies and gentlemen are things of past, and you may think that you can only see a man hold a door open for a lady at a renaissance festival, I know a few people who might disagree.
Ladies and Gentlemen
Many people believe that etiquette is nothing more than the art of trying to catch someone using the incorrect fork at a dinner party. They however are mistaken, as etiquette has served as a code of social behavior for centuries, starting with the nobles, and the idea of ladies, gentlemen courtier. Although few people think of etiquette at any time except on the occasion of their wedding, we all however mostly practice it every day, often as a matter of routine. Though formal and elaborate manners have always been required for life in the Royal Court, but are these ideas of ladies and gentlemen an out dated notion, or do more people than you would think still believe in this way of life.
When considering the definitions of a lady or gentlemen, you would most likely thing of a lady as a well-mannered and considerate woman with high standards of proper behavior, and a gentleman as a man of gentle or noble birth or superior social position, or something very similar to the definition of a lady. Etiquette as we think of it was established in the Versailles court of French King Louis XIV. There was a large circle of courtiers, ladies and gentlemen whose main occupation was hanging around the court, attending balls and ballets, dining, and looking fabulous (Marly, D, 1987). Over time however very specific rules of behavior were developed, which in large part may have evolved from the fact that the ladies and gentlemen of the court had no specific occupations, other than being courtiers. In The Book of the Courtier, a courtier’s goal is to be a well-rounded person, but above all a courtier must be an accomplished solder; not only mastering the martial arts, but demonstrating absolute bravery and total loyalty in war. A courtier must have a liberal education that must include Latin and Greek or other modern languages. Also a courtier must be able to drew, and appreciate the arts, while also excelling in dance and music; but above all they must demonstrate a certain level of gracefulness (Sayre, H. M, 2011); thus demonstrating the perfect form of a gentleman.
Although not all corners of society have abandoned the traditional form of manners and this is most evident than in the upper tiers of society, where certain customs seem to be set in stone, no matter how much the world changes. In some communities, formal etiquette classes are still an important part of a young lady or gentleman's upbringing (Mitchell & Corr, 2000). Perhaps the best example of this is the debutantes who make their entrance to society each season. This is a very old tradition, which was designed to introduce eligible young ladies from “good” families to society and to put people on notice that they are now old enough to accept serious suitors. Nonetheless, many of the customs persist, including the long white wedding dresses, the eligible young men serving as escorts, and even the formal curtsy which each debutante makes upon being presented to society at her cotillion. The debutantes might be worldlier than their counterparts in the first half of the 20th Century, but there are still more things which are the same about modern debutantes than are different, as the etiquette has changed very little.
When surveying my neighborhood, I surveyed eight men, and eight woman, all military and currently stationed in Jacksonville, Florida, but originally from all over the United States. All of my survey participants where between the ages of 24-30; and the results I received where surprising, eleven out of sixteen people expressed that they themselves had characteristics of a lady or gentlemen. Many of the man stated that they prided themselves in still holding a door for a lady and had wonderful manners. While many of the women I surveyed stated that they didn’t truly believe that gentlemen still existed and if they do, where are they? It’s hard to say if chivalry is dead, but one thing I can say is that more men then woman seems to believe that ladies and gentlemen do still exists. I am unsure if it had to do with their military affiliation or if it was the way they were raised. I do tend to agree with the notion of ladies and gentlemen still existing in today’s society.
I believe that ladies and gentlemen do exist, but maybe not in today’s modern United States. I spent some time in Great Brittan during my time in the United States Navy, and I did witness many more men holding the door open, bring a lady bouquet of flowers, complementing their wives. I also believe that maybe the fact that we are not taught as many manners as our parents were as part of the growing problem in today’s society. Kids today are not raised in the way that they once were where if they do not say please or thank you they will get reprimanded. It seems as if kids can get away with anything, and they are not being raised as ladies and gentlemen anymore.
Marly, D. (1987). Louis xiv & Versailles. Holmes & Meier.
Sayre, H. M. (2011). The humanities: culture, continuity and change. (Second ed., Vol. First). Upper Saddle River: Prentice Hall.
Mitchell, M., & Corr, J. (2000). The complete idiot's guide to etiquette. (second ed.). Penguin.