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  • Print publication year: 2021
  • Online publication date: December 2020

5 - From Courtiers to Ladies


This chapter examines two competing ideals about appropriate conduct for women: the lady of the court and the bourgeois woman. Interaction between courtly and bourgeois ideals of femininity had been taking place for centuries. Until the early twentieth century, courtly ideals of femininity continued to hold sway at the upper level of Thai society, although they were tempered by the rising influence of a bourgeois view of the world due to economic transformation. The declining social position of the aristocracy in the early decades of the twentieth century, culminating in the overthrow of the absolute monarchy in 1932, dealt a blow to courtly conceptions of behaviour for women while helping to elevate the bourgeois housewife as the new ideal of exemplary feminine conduct. The chapter also highlights the very influential role that many elite women played in the twentieth century in writing about manners, including in the new literary genre of novels of manners. The chapter examines the works of numerous well-known women writers on manners.