Created By: crazysamaritan on January 6, 2012 Last Edited By: lexicon on May 21, 2012
Troped

English Rose

The well-bred young beauty of English society.

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An English Rose is a nostalgic idea of a beautiful young English lady. She is virtuous and possesses a certain type of modest beauty. This character is always of English (or British at least) breeding, and likely to speak in the RP accent.

If from a historical period (and upper-class), she was raised to be a Proper Lady. A modern specimen does not need to follow the full of Proper Lady ideals, but still has to be a nice girl: well-mannered and goodhearted.

An English Rose is often composed and dignified in any social setting. A major characteristic is her humility in terms of family and society. Her will can be iron-hard, while subservient to her husband, if she has one. Before marriage tends be a more spirited version, but doesn't necessarily lose that spirit after marriage. In fact, one of the charms of the English Rose may be her ability to maintain decorum and pleasure regardless of any trouble.

While English Rose is not defined by a specific look, it does have a set of associated characteristics.

  • her figure, beauty, dress, and manners are modest and conservative rather than provocative or sexy
  • is more on the petite side, and slender--an English Rose can sometimes be a bit chubby, but is never very tall (outside of modeling business use of the trope) or of very substantial build
  • is fair skinned, has a rosy glow to her cheeks rather than being eerily pale
  • hair can be of any shade as long as it isn't too exotic--wavy, light brown or copper hair is most archetypal, as well as hairstyles more 'natural' and less fabricated than of her peers, but any moderate and understated hairstyle fitting the period fits the type
  • has gentle eyes, that are almond shaped or drooping rather than cat-like (following the Japanese Droopy Eyes = gentle, Catty Eyes = active stereotypes)

There is no requirement for actresses portraying her actually to be English, or even British.

Compare with its sister tropes, Yamato Nadeshiko, from Japan, and Bonne Belle, from southern USA. Also compare The Woman Wearing the Queenly Mask.

Examples:

[[folder:Film]]
  • Rose DeWitt Bukater of Titanic is a perfect English china doll until her deflowering. Afterwards she is more of the Spirited Young Lady variety with all the smoking and dancing with third class passengers.
    Rose: No Jack, no! Jack, I'm engaged. I'm marrying Cal. I love Cal.
  • The Other Boleyn Girl has the Tudor beauty Mary making an impression on the king.
    Henry: You don't think he'll miss court? A young ambitious man.
    Mary: He says not, Your Majesty. But if he ever changed his mind...as his wife, of course, I would do his bidding.
[[/folder]]

[[folder:Literature]]
  • Elizabeth's sister Jane from Pride and Prejudice, both the book and the film. Kind, polite, well-mannered and beautiful English country gentry. Jane is considered the most beautiful young lady in the neighbourhood. Her character is contrasted with Elizabeth's as sweeter, shyer, and equally sensible, but not as clever; her most notable trait is a desire to see only the good in others.
  • In The Royal Diaries book Elizabeth I: Red Rose of the House of Tudor Henry VIII of England got angry at Prince Edward for being lazy while the girls worked on the rose bushes. Elizabeth was quick to respectfully tell her father that she thinks that Edward's humors were out of balance. For that the king tenderly told the princess that she was the true Tudor rose.
  • There's Juliet from Romeo and Juliet of the dignified house of Capulet. She is a headstrong and intelligent character in spite of her young age. She wants to obey her parents until she meets Romeo and commits herself to him.
[[/folder]]
Community Feedback Replies: 51
  • January 6, 2012
    peccantis
    You could include the detailed looks description from the TRS discussion.
  • January 6, 2012
    Lawman592
    Since this trope is being retooled, are the examples now going to be characters rather than the actresses who often play these roles?
  • January 6, 2012
    jate88
    This is a Gothic Horror Trope isn't it? Is it related to The Tragic Rose?

    As for your New Zealand question I'm sure there are some die hard fans of the power rangers who know lots of actors/actresses from that country.
  • January 7, 2012
    TTurtle
    As I recall, there was some debate in the TRS about whether a Spirited Young Lady would also be an English Rose. Did that ever get settled?
  • January 8, 2012
    NoirGrimoir
    I think something in the description should mention how she tends to be respectful to people of all social standings.
  • January 12, 2012
    Neonfraction
    Frances Midford from Kuroshitsuji is a fine example of this.
  • January 12, 2012
    nman
    Would this be a sister trope to Southern Belle?
  • January 13, 2012
    captainpat
    This needs a proper laconic.
  • January 13, 2012
    ScanVisor
    Peggy Carter from Captain America The First Avenger. She always helps Cap despite him sorta being Crazy Awesome in the beggining, and is so stoic she barely changes her face when she shoots at Cap when she's mad.
  • January 13, 2012
    crazysamaritan
    ^^ true. But since the trope is lacking the requisite 3 examples, I figured it could wait. So far the only proposals are zero context examples.
  • January 13, 2012
    ScanVisor
    ^ Duly noted, editing my example.
  • January 13, 2012
    NoirGrimoir
    • Elizabeth and her sister Jane from Pride And Prejudice, both the book and the film. Kind, polite, well-mannered and beautiful English country gentry.
  • January 14, 2012
    cityofmist
    I don't think Lady Sybil counts. A big part of this trope is the appearance - young, slim, beautiful, none of which she is - and another is the calm, stoic demeanour, which she also doesn't have. Nor is she English. Basically, she fits no elements of the trope at all except for being aristocracy.
  • January 14, 2012
    crazysamaritan
    Ankh-Morpork is a stand-in for London, she is always calm, and you'll disqualify her because she's fat?

    Also, an English Rose couldnt be stoic. A proper English lady greets her guests with joy and a warm smile.
  • January 14, 2012
    crazysamaritan
    Sam Vimes had known ever since their marriage that his wife had a place out in the country. One of the reasons he knew this was because she had given it to him. In fact, she had transferred all the holdings of her family, said family consisting solely of her at that point, to him in the old-fashioned but endearing belief that a husband should be the one doing the owning.[[hottip:*: And thenceforth would be glad to get a gentle second place in almost every domestic decision. Lady Sybil took the view that her darling husband's word was law for the City Watch while, in her own case, it was a polite suggestion to be graciously considered]] She had insisted.
  • January 15, 2012
    peccantis
    It would help if you added the list of physical attributes that was mentioned in the thread.
  • January 25, 2012
    atheywa
    In The Royal Diaries book Elizabeth I: Red Rose of the House of Tudor Henry VIII of England got angry at Prince Edward for being lazy while the girls worked on the rose bushes. Elizabeth was quick to respectfully tell her father that she thinks that Edward's humors were out of balance. For that the king tenderly told the princess that she was the true Tudor rose.
  • January 25, 2012
    Damr1990
    compare Proper Lady
  • January 26, 2012
    jatay3
    I thought this was already launched.
  • January 27, 2012
    crazysamaritan
    ^ the examples were limited to actresses, not characters, and had only No Context Examples. So a trs thread voted to kick it back to ykttw.
  • January 27, 2012
    atheywa
    I like the comment "I think something in the description should mention how she tends to be respectful to people of all social standings." I say that she can be a Spirited Young Lady but there would need to be a sense of humility to her which Elizabeth of Pride And Prejudice doesn't have. Jane, on the other hand, is considered the most beautiful young lady in the neighbourhood. Her character is contrasted with Elizabeth's as sweeter, shyer, and equally sensible, but not as clever; her most notable trait is a desire to see only the good in others.
  • January 27, 2012
    Prfnoff
    Anna in The King And I--if I understand this trope correctly...
  • January 28, 2012
    atheywa
    Rose De Witt Bukater of Titanic is a perfect china doll until her deflowering.
    Rose: No Jack, no! Jack, I'm engaged. I'm marrying Cal. I love Cal.
  • January 30, 2012
    crazysamaritan
    I don't think rose fits, since her mother was explicitly upset with rose not acting like a lady.
  • January 30, 2012
    atheywa
    Rose might not always act like a lady but she's very used to being a gentlewoman. "This is absurd. I don't know you and you don't know me and we are not having this conversation at all. You are rude and uncouth, and presumptuous, and I am leaving now." Shouldn't Rose count for something?
  • January 30, 2012
    atheywa
    What about Mary Boleyn, the kinder, more beautiful and younger sister of The Other Boleyn Girl?
  • January 30, 2012
    LittleLizard
    Visual Novels:
    • The newly released Katawa Shoujo features Lilly which seems to have been designed out of this trope. Blonde: Check. Accent: A bit, Check. British traits (Punctuality, Tea): Check. Fanservice: Little check.
  • January 30, 2012
    crazysamaritan
    ^^^ should sharing the name count? No. That line doesn't fit the trope, either.

    ^^ I'll have to rewatch that movie; kinder/gentler isn't a trope feature.

    ^ blonde: not this trope. Accent: which one? British Traits: you missed the line that said this trope does not require them to be from Britain. Fanservice: okay, one trait.
  • January 31, 2012
    atheywa
    Well, if Rose getting caught dancing with third class passengers (the thing that makes her mother forbid her from seeing Jack again) then go ahead and delete The Royal Diaries. Elizabeth I is a Fiery Redhead who can swear up a storm when she wants to.
  • January 31, 2012
    crazysamaritan
    going below decks, inappropriate language, smoking cigarettes, talking out of turn, and not smiling... Those are the reprimands I can remember her mother telling her, and the implication was that she is constantly misbehaving in similar ways.

    Not acting like a gentlewoman at all.
  • February 2, 2012
    atheywa
    I'm afraid we're still not communicating. The page says, "An English Rose is often composed and dignified in any social setting. Her will is iron-hard, while subservient to her husband, if she has one." The thing about Rose's misbehavior is that she always uses such discretion so that those who aren't looking for it never even notice. Rose is willful to her mother but loyal to her fiancee despite the fact that she knows he doesn't deserve it.

    I'm also confuses about what makes a proper gentlewoman. Elizabeth I swearing up a storm doesn't disqualify her but if there's a number of things the woman does, that will disqualify her, like talking out of turn and not smiling?
  • March 5, 2012
    atheywa
    What about Juliet from Romeo And Juliet? She is a headstrong and intelligent character in spite of her young age. She wants to obey her parents until she meets Romeo and commits herself to him.
  • March 5, 2012
    RossN
    I do think mention should be made that even if she fits the trope mostly Sybil Vimes doesn't fit the usual physical standard of the character type - she isn't beautiful or even slim. Appearance isn't the be all and end all of the trope but it is a part and thus should be mentioned.
  • March 5, 2012
    peccantis
    Here's from the TRS

    English Rose is not a specific look, but it most certainly does define the looks of the characters.

    • looks ethnically traditionally British, with fair skin.
    • hair can be of any shade as long as it isn't too exotic — wavy, light brown or copper hair is most archetypal, as well as hairstyles more 'natural' and less fabricated than of her peers, but any moderate and understated hairstyle fitting the period fits the type
    • is more on the petite side, and slender — an English Rose can sometimes be a bit chubby, but is never very tall (outside of modeling business use of the trope) or of very substantial build
    • is not dramatically beautiful, but modestly beautiful, kind of like the girl next door, but with classic beauty rather than youthful prettiness
    • has not too sexy a figure, but is rather modestly endowed
    • dresses conservatively and modestly
    • is fair skinned, has a rosy glow to her cheeks rather than being eerily pale
    • has gentle eyes, that are almond shaped or drooping rather than cat-like (following the Japanese Droopy Eyes = gentle, Catty Eyes = active stereotypes)
    • has small lips, that may or may not be full, but are more precious and delicate than provoking and sexy — lip movements per emotions are also delicate and understated as opposed to wide smiles and passionate grimaces
    • acts in a gentle, composed manner common to Proper Ladies
    • gets her delicacy played up with fluffy, flowing, and softly glowing visual elements
  • March 8, 2012
    pepperbots
    For an example, how about Lady Mary Crawley from Downton Abbey? She's English (even though that's not a strict requirement), dark haired, fair skinned, and slender.

    The only thing that might not fit, since it seems there's some disagreement on the terms for this trope, is her personality. She's definitely composed, dignified (being a proper lady), and has an iron will, but she also has quite the sarcastic almost acidic side to her. I guess I'm confused on how "dainty" an English Rose is supposed to be. Lady Mary is certainly proper and graceful but also has a very strong personality.
  • March 24, 2012
    Ckuckoo
    I think personality is the most important aspect here, and it would be a mistake to overemphasise superficial appearance traits.

    By this I mean it is my impression that you could be generous towards examples that fit the personality but not so much the physical aspects, but it is simply wrong and incorrect to apply this type when the personality does not fit, regardless of similarity of appearance.

    I think this trope as it is now is ripe for misuse because it comes off as a mostly visual trope with important personality traits. Conversely, this should be a personality trope with important visual traits.
  • April 9, 2012
    Ckuckoo
    bump
  • April 9, 2012
    Jilliterate
    I think there could stand to be a little more description about the required personality for an English Rose, just because I feel like Mary Poppins is a good example (Strong-willed, firm manners, and yet genteel), but I'm not totally sure if it's fitting exactly what you have in mind.
  • April 9, 2012
    Jilliterate
    Also, would Silk Hiding Steel be a related trope?
  • April 9, 2012
    HeartOfAnAstronaut
    Actresses like Keira Knightley and Rosamund Pike play this character a lot.

    Ross's wife Emily on Friends, possibly Julia from Brideshead Revisited.
  • May 3, 2012
    lexicon
    It looks like it has some good examples. Is this ready to be put back on it's page?
  • May 3, 2012
    katiek
    I would say both Jane Seymour and Rachel Weisz tend to play this, but interestingly, though both UK born, are both of Central European descent. So I think it might be a quality of cultural Englishness over actually being of English descent...
  • May 10, 2012
    lexicon
    The reason this was put back on YKTTW is because all it had was a list of actresses. Only a character and how that character fits should be offered for examples.
  • May 10, 2012
    peccantis
    The all-white examples need to be de-whited.
  • May 12, 2012
    lexicon
    It's been months since the sponsor has said anything. I think that makes this Up For Grabs. What of the description should be changed and what of the examples should be added or taken away? I don't see how the first two examples fit (Lady Sybil and Peggy Carter) and Rose from Titanic and Elizabeth I (for her swearing) are up for question.
  • May 13, 2012
    Arivne
    The OP crazysamaritan last edited this on January 31st. Since that was more than two months ago, this is indeed officially Up For Grabs.
  • May 13, 2012
    peccantis
    I've grabbed it already o/
  • May 13, 2012
    lexicon
    The changes look good. I don't know if Peggy Carter should count. I'm not familiar with the work but helpful and emotionless doesn't sound the description of a proper gentlewoman.
  • May 18, 2012
    lexicon
    I deleted some things that looked irrelevant and moved a couple of others. Unless someone can offer better context I'd like to delete the Peggy Cater example. It says nothing about being proper, British or high-class.
  • May 18, 2012
    lexicon
    My only problem with the most recent changes is the "nice girl" phrase. It sounds too vague. Something else would be better. I think an important aspect to this concept is the 'subservient' part. Like the Yamato Nadeshiko she respects the man in her life. That's how she's nice, right?
  • May 19, 2012
    lexicon
    As far as I can tell crazysamaritan would approve. Shall we relaunch?
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