Being Good

Topics: Etiquette, Emily Post, Sociology Pages: 6 (1421 words) Published: October 8, 1999

I Introduction

A definition

B people's impression

1 formal impression

2 common impression

C thesis

II History of Etiquette

A old British style

B Post family

1 original

2 extended

C how rules have changed from old style / new ones not used

III Kinds of Etiquette

A common sense aspect

B formal aspects

1 social

2 business

IV How and when it is used

A when the right time is

B what situations require a change

1 indicators

2 parallel good

V Personal view

A what things are really important

B why etiquette is relative

1 right to some / wrong to others

2 some expect more than others

3 situations can be perceived different ways

VI Conclusion

A re-discussion of why it is relative (from intro. & part V)

B usefulness of defined rules

1 narrow situations

2 good common ones

C re-statement / support from paper

Websters Ninth collegiate dictionary defines etiquette as "The conduct or procedure required by good breeding or prescribed by authority to be observed in social or official life." What this tells us is that those who are bred well, and feel that others are, have certain expectations of those people. If said people don't meet those undefined standards of good breeding, then their etiquette is at fault. The other part of the definition describes etiquette as being prescribed by authority. There are times when a set of rules are laid out for a specific occasion. When this is not defined, one must decide what action or set of actions is appropriate. It reminds me of the saying "When in Rome, do as the Romans do." Yet if I were to go to Rome, I'll still be American, and would have to decide if being in Rome is worth acting like a Roman. Emily Post (whom I will discuss) said "Etiquette is common sense - a code of behavior based on thoughtfulness." (Hatfield, 61) It's all very confusing, but there is only one way to look at the whole picture. Etiquette can only be defined in terms of oneself; though rules are available, they are seldom known, and it is a personal decision and preference often depending on one's situation.

Back in old times of Kings and Queens ruling the serfs, Etiquette was the way of life. Each person had a role which they upheld, and it was well defined. Written laws, such as appropriate public attire, or proper worship practices governed what today would be considered a personal choice.(Carlson, 49) Everyone knew his or her place. They were expected to act a certain way to one person, and another to someone else. With the development of the middle class, there was a need for rules of etiquette to define those of the upper class; it had become more difficult to differentiate between the socialite upper class and those of the developing middle class. As time has gone by, such strict rules have eroded. Etiquette is slowly being replaced with manners, which are optional in most people's eyes.

Emily Post wrote the first official book of etiquette in 1922 upon the suggestion of Frank Crowninshield of Vanity Fair (Hatfield, 61) . It was meant to be a guide for the upper class. The book went over well, and was commonly referred to (Hatfield, 61) . Post's daughter, Elizabeth, carried on the tradition with re-publishings and rewriting her mother's famous book. In recent years, Elizabeth Post's daughter-in law, Peggy, has written books and published CD roms on the subject (Hatfield, 61) . Post claims that " . . . etiquette books are really about appropriate manners, not meaningless ritual. (Hatfield, 61)" Having read from front to back the Amy Vanderbilt Complete Book of Etiquette, such a claim seems a far stretch.

Etiquette, whether forced, implied or otherwise, always changes depending upon one's situation. For social situations, there are rules which may be followed, but don't always...

Bibliography: Miller, Margo. "Living by the book" Time 18 August 1989 ; 23
Kennedy, Louise."Difficulties of Etiquette in America 's Democracy" Time 30
July 1990:34
Hatfield Julie. "A New Post Inherits Etiquette" Time 8 August 1994 : 61
Dunnan, Nancy, and Nancy Tuckerman The Amy Vanderbilt Complete Book of
Etiquette New York: Doubleday, 1995
Axtell, Roger Do 's and Taboo 's Elmsford: Parker Pen Company, 1995
Carlson, Dale and Dan Fitzgibbon Manners That Matter for People under 21 New York: E.P. Dutton, 1983
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