Study Guide

Austenland Tradition and Customs

By Shannon Hale

Tradition and Customs

Jane spent the drive going over her packet of notes, "Social History of the Regency Period" and felt as though she were cramming for a test in some uninteresting but required college course. (3.9)

At least Jane has a book, right? Imagine trying to learn all these traditions and customs just through observation, while under the pressure that the slightest social faux pas could buy you a one-way ticket to spinsterhood.

On meeting, a gentleman is presented to the lady first because it is considered an honor for him to meet her. (3.11)

This is a nice boost of confidence, but we have to say that we're not sure how honored we'd feel to meet Miss Charming. We might be inching toward the door…

It is imperative that these social customs be followed to the letter. For the sake of all our guests, any person who flagrantly disobeys these rules will be asked to leave. (3.14)

Strangely, Mrs. Wattlesbrook isn't telling us the truth here. While the custom isn't to cavort with servants, she covertly encourages Martin the gardener to hook up with Jane. Hm, we guess meddling is the real traditional here.

No gossip, no swapping university prank stories, no yo's and ho's and all that. I am very strict about my observances, hm? (3.29)

Mrs. Wattlesbrook is so strict, she doesn't seem to have any earthly idea how younger people actually talk these days. Jane is a young woman from New York, not a pirate.

Mrs. Wattlesbrook settled down to quiz [Jane] on the items of study—how to play the card games whist and speculation, general etiquette, current events of the Regency period, and so on. (3.41)

Who knew card games were so complicated? In addition to learning the rules, you also have to be following the proper etiquette with the local ladies and gentleman. No wonder social activities eventually changed from whist to "just hanging out."

To properly enjoy "the Experience," Jane was to understand, even the underwear must be Regency. (3.43)

Although the corsets and boning (no giggles) might be uncomfortable, we think it might be a nice reminder to follow the strict rules of etiquette. Rigid posture; rigid behaviors.

Remember to wear a wrap and bonnet when you go out! (4.6)

Austenland is the only place where you're likely to hear this statement today. The wrap and bonnet are for show, not function; they keep you from being branded as an improper lady.

Regency breasts should be veiled during daylight hours. (5.77)

For all the talk of heaving bosoms we hear about in romance novels, they're actually quite modest about their bodies. (Note: we said hear about. We're totally not talking from experience. No, that's not Fabio on the cover of that book…)

Doing next to nothing all day was taking its toll. (8.8)

As someone who normally spends her days in New York City—taking public transportation, working a desk job, and trying to have an active social life—this lady of leisure stuff is just so boring for our dear Jane.

Was that right? Could two unmarried ladies be alone with a single man? Jane couldn't remember for sure, but neither protested, so they sat in the sitting room, since that's what it was for. (10.52)

Ah, Jane's already thinking like a 19th-century dame. These rules aren't instinctual; they have to be memorized.