Abstract

Framing Romantic Dress: Mary Robinson, Princess Caroline and the Sex/Text

Two Romantic Period women who were accustomed to public appearances used the semiotic play provided by deliberate dress choices to create public interpretations of their legible bodies: Mary Robinson and Princess Caroline. While Robinson carefully crafted her public image, she also varied it with fashionable rapidity so that she was always in the public eye due to her literal mobility among public spaces and her identity mobility. This flexible form of role playing allowed Robinson to adjust her public image as necessary. When the less adept Caroline of Brunswick attempted to create similar identity play for herself, the outcome was successful or disastrous in public opinion depending on her political backers. Caroline's body was pre-read through political screens, and unlike Robinson's careful identity managing, Caroline's costuming was directed at fighting or abetting such screens.