Friday, August 13, 2010

Of Rich Bachelors and Debauchery

This little post today is the warm-up act for a very pretty and detailed insight into Rhett and Scarlett's wedding that the fashionista of our blog (iso, in case you're new around here) will have for you this weekend. (Abundance of period fashion plates! Run for your lives. You have been warned.)

So while my co-blogger is busy with that (and with trying to lock me out of my account once she reads this post), I will assume the voice of a Victorian moralist and see what really lurks beneath Rhett's "I am not a marrying man" statement:
"The main reason, therefore, why the number of marriages in this class of our population is declining is because the men choose to have it so, and not because the women are beyond their capacity to support. Three-fourths of the bachelors of our acquaintance are rich enough to bear the expense even of the most fashionable women; and, what is equally certain, they are bachelors just because they are rich. Wealth often indisposes men to marry, but it rarely has this effect on women. At the period of life when marriage begins to charm the fancy and awaken the sensibilities our fast young men are preoccupied. They have already, in most cases, surrendered their souls to other captors. Dissipation and licentiousness have utterly unfitted them for poetry and love, and they vastly prefer a midnight debauch, to the pleasures of the fireside and the companionship of a devoted wife."
--excerpted from the November 2, 1867 inaugural edition of Harper's Bazar
Ah, exactly like I suspected! It was bitchery and abomination* dissipation and licentiousness that kept Rhett from enjoying the tame pleasures of the hearth and "the companionship of a devoted wife." You will notice, though, how poetry and love are tied together and opposed to debauchery. If Scarlett had been of a more flowery language, that's what she would have told her husband instead of "You can't understand Ashley or me. You've lived in dirt too long to know anything else."

"Dissipation and licentiousness have made you utterly unfitted for poetry and love. Good night."

On a second thought, thank God she wasn't that eloquent. 

*TM: William Faulkner, don't you all faint at once.


  1. Some things don't change much! Would Scarlett have been considered a 'trophy wife'? Would Rhett have shed her for the 1870s upgrade version? (And I don't mean Anne Hampton!) ;D

    Bugsie, you do have a way of ferreting out the most interesting information! I liked the way you put that quote from Scarlett into this context. Whenever she'd fling that one at Rhett it seemed rather absurd, Scarlett taking moralistic airs when she was hardly the model of Victorian wifely virtue! Thanks for the elucidation (and the bon mots from Faulkner).

  2. Funny last words: "Hey Bugsie, I'm pretty busy right now. Can you post this lil snippet for me today?" :P

    But I suppose fake Scarlett quotes and real Faulkner quotes make it okay in the end...

  3. Don't forget the fashionista jokes. They've really added flavor to the post :D


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