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Southern Belle

Lyons: Well, Miss Devereaux! And how is the fairest flower of the South?
Diana: Senator Lyons, that's the prettiest thing been said to me since I left Louisiana. I sure been gettin' pow'ful homesick.
One of the Girls: She sure is getting pow'ful Southern.

A character archetype of an upper class rich girl from the Deep South — or Sweet Home Alabama. She usually wears a Pimped-Out Dress to every dance or party, carries a Parasol of Prettiness in the daytime, and speaks in the most profound Dixie accent. May be subject to fainting or saying, "Well, I do declare!"

A trope that grew out of the South during The American Civil War, there are two versions of the Southern Belle: the Bonne Belle ("good beauty" in French), who is loyal to her husband and family even as she sees them off to war, and the Mauvaise Belle ("bad beauty" in French), who is selfish and vain and manipulates those around to her get what she wants.

The Southern Belle is generally now a Dead Horse Trope, usually limited to parody and historic romance novels.

Compare Southern Gentleman (the Spear Counterpart), Yamato Nadeshiko, English Rose, Princess Classic, Proper Lady (the Japanese, English, royal, and general European counterparts of Bonne Belle).

In Real Life, they sometimes go by (according to The Other Wiki) "Ya Ya Sisters," "Sweet Potato Queens," and "GRITS (Girls Raised In The South)." note 


Examples:

Anime and Manga
  • A southern accent turned Shizuru Fujino into one in Mai-HiME and Mai-Otome's English dub.
  • The same goes for Ranamon in Digimon Frontier.
  • Kiel Heim & Lilly Borjarnon from ∀ Gundam appear to have been designed after this archetype.
  • In one episode of Pokémon, James returns home to his blue-blooded family, who promptly inform him of his engagement to a woman named Jessiebelle, a perfect example of this trope. Or at least she would if she wasn't such a domineering bitch - one of the reasons that led James to run away from home in the first place.

Audio Play
  • In The Firesign Theater's album Everything You Know Is Wrong the wire recording of the medicine show features one of these. Celebrating that the South won the Civil War:
    Beulah Belle: Think of those balls you'll have!
    Dad: You're too young to think about that, Beulah Balls. Er, Belle.

Comic Books
  • Rogue in the hands of Chris Claremont originally was an aversion, as her lower-class origins and tomboy youth on the Mississippi made her more similar to Huckleberry Finn than anything. In later story she still subverted the trope as she only dreamed of being a Scarlett O'Hara-type belle, while in her everyday life wearing pretty unladylike, sometimes masculine clothes and leading the life of a superhero.
  • Bunnie Rabbot from the Sonic the Hedgehog Archie Comics is said to be this. There was a scrapped plotline about her origins that would have revealed her real name as Scarlet O'Hare.
    • While that went nowhere, it's become official canon that while the name has always been spelt "Rabbot", it's actually pronounced "Rah-boh". Nobody calls her that because A: it's only evident in Bunnie's Dixie-ish accent, B: it's spelt Rabbot, and C: her Hollywood Cyborg nature makes "Rabbot" too much of a pun to pass up. Her uncle, also a Hollywood Cyborg, notes his name got the same treatment.

Film
  • Julie Marsden (Bette Davis) in Jezebel. Very much mauvaise until her Heel-Face Turn at the end.
  • Everyone from Venus in The American Astronaut, seriously.
  • Charlotte from The Princess and the Frog. Bonne, if a bit spoiled.
  • Rosemary Bartlow in The Bad and the Beautiful.
  • Scarlett O'Hara is quite possibly the definitive example of the mauvaise in Gone with the Wind.
    • With Scarlett's rival Melanie providing the definitive example of the bonne.
    • Scarlett turns out to be a bit of a subversion later on, as after the war she shows qualities very unbecoming to a classic belle, such as readiness to do hard work herself and an almost Yankee-like business sense and enterprise.
  • Phyllis in Excision is a modern-day Southern housewife who aspires to this. She wants to enroll her daughter Pauline in cotillion classes in order to teach her how to be a "proper" lady.
  • Calvin Candie's sister Laura in Django Unchained is a Deconstruction of this type of character. While she does appear to be polite and dedicated to her brother, she is also approving of slavery and has a Fate Worse than Death organized for a main character at the end, putting her in stark contrast to how she might otherwise be.

Literature
  • Melanie Hamilton (Bonne Belle) and Scarlett O'Hara (Mauvais Belle) in Gone with the Wind.
  • Daisy Buchanan and Jordan Baker in The Great Gatsby are Western Belles.
  • Mary Johnson of Fellow Travelers. She's rich, from New Orleans, and well-educated for the time period (McCarthy-era Washington). She's also strong-willed and independent, and like so many of the belles on this page, that gets her into trouble.
  • William Faulkner is especially fond of this trope, although his characters tend to be deconstructions.
  • Zin of Everwild is the inverted version of this.
  • Claire Goodman of Lynn Austin's Refiner's Fire trilogy is a Mauvais Belle.
  • Aramat Drawdes in one short novel in Caitlin R. Kiernan's Alabaster is an especially dangerous (and insane) Mauvais Belle.
  • The short story Witch War by Richard Matheson describes a group of very young Southern Belles (all teen or pre-teen girls) who are sitting on a porch, drinking lemonade, gossiping and other such activities associated with the trope ... until it's revealed they are a secret weapon to be used against enemy soldiers, whom the girls rapidly massacre with horrifying powers of telekinesis. They then return to gossiping and giggling, with a murmur of "aren't we awful!"

Live-Action TV
  • In Leverage, Sophie Devereaux pretended to be one in "The Two Horse Job."
  • In The Drew Carey Show, Drew dates (marries? I'm not sure) a Southern Belle in the later seasons.
  • Charlotte from Private Practice starts off as the mauvaise variation
  • Blanche Devereaux on The Golden Girls.
  • The ladies of Designing Women
  • An episode of The Twilight Zone entitled Jess-Belle, has examples of both. Jess-Belle would be Mauvais, while her rival Ellwyn would be an example of Bonne.
  • Aeryn was one of these in an AU episode. It was freakin' terrifying.
  • Deputy Chief Brenda Leigh Johnson (Kyra Sedgwick) in The Closer. She's a Southern Belle detective from Georgia who really stands out working in the Los Angeles police department. Her Southern charm and accent are actually a part of her interrogation tactic on suspects - although, as her husband Fritz points out, at heart she's "a bit of an old-fashioned girl."
  • Maude Standish in The Magnificent Seven- although, since she is a con artist, her credentials may be slightly suspect.
  • Calleigh Duquesne from CSI: Miami has elements of this.
  • "Colonel Daddy's daughter" on Hee Haw.
  • Lemon Breeland on Hart Of Dixie.
  • JAG: Harriet Sim's mother Lydia Beaumont Sims.
  • One appears on Good Eats, and shares her (breakfast) grits with an Italian man who is enjoying some polenta (which she calls "dinner grits.")
  • House of Cards (US): Claire Underwood is a Texas Belle. Nonetheless, she buries her accent quite effectively.note 

Newspaper Comics

Professional Wrestling
  • GLOW once featured a team called the Southern Belles. Their names were Scarlett and Tara.

Radio
  • Mister Gently Benevolent posed as one in Bleak Expectations. Not a spoiler because he wasn't even bothering with the accent most of the time...
  • I'm Sorry I'll Read That Again did a parody of Song of the South featuring Lady Constance as "a real Southern Belle", leading to the Incredibly Lame Pun: "She shore is shaped like one!"

Tabletop Games
  • Miss Peach, a member of the Extended Universe of the Cluedo series. While she pretends to be the Bonne Belle, most of Miss Peach's appearances point out that she is a pathological liar, and something of a temptress to rival Miss Scarlet, making her a true Mauvaise Belle.

Theater

Video Games

Web Comics
  • Faye's mother in Questionable Content is something of one (at least compared to her daughters, the elder of whom chose to make her life in darkest Massachusetts and the younger who came out as a lesbian not long after).

Western Animation


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