Gypsy dating rules
This stereotype was likely reinforced by the Romani practice of fortune-telling to earn money.
In the Gothic, novelists sometimes use ‘gypsy’ characters as vehicles for foreshadowing by giving them the true gift of foresight. She is a Gypsy, a sort of Vagabond, whose sole occupation is to run about the country telling lyes, and pilfering from those who come by their money honestly. If I were King of Spain, every one of them should be burnt alive who was found in my dominions after the next three weeks.” Regardless of this injunction, Antonia allows her palm to be read, and the resulting prediction accurately forecasts her doom.
According to Katie Trumpener, both stereotypes have fed into a ‘process of literarization’ which has placed the Romani in a difficult position at the center of an increasingly powerful pattern of Western symbolism.
The Romani, who were forbidden to attend school, remained almost entirely illiterate, and therefore lacked a voice with which to proclaim their own identities and histories. “The Origin and Function of the Gypsy Image in Children’s Literature.” The Lion and the Unicorn: A Critical Journal of Children’s Literature.
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When literary scholars want to study the way the Romani have been portrayed in literature, the situation becomes a little simpler, as there are basically two stereotypical ‘gypsies’, which are used in some form again and again.
These descriptions often operated to promote the notion of the ‘gypsies’ as a distinct race with a singular set of characteristics; the romantic Romani is always dark, agile, and handsome, with a wild temperament ill-suited to the rules of English society.
This romanticized picture of Romani life isn’t terribly truthful; in fact the group was persecuted, outcast or outlawed altogether in many European countries.
For example, in the first chapter of MG Lewis’ The Monk, innocent Antonia sees a ‘gypsy’ dancing on the street, and asks her aunt if she is mad. The child-stealing version of the ‘gypsy’ stereotype is featured in Victor Hugo’s Hunchback of Notre Dame, in which Sister Gudule accuses Esmerelda of being child thief.
Gudule also thinks her daughter Agnes was abducted and eaten by ‘gypsies’. Gypsy Identities 1500–2000: From Egipcyans and Moon-men to the ethnic Romany.