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Proper Lady

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"[The perfect wife] was intensely sympathetic. She was immensely charming. She was utterly unselfish. She excelled in the difficult arts of family life. She sacrificed daily. [...] Above all, she was pure."
Virginia Woolf, "Professions for Women"

What is a Proper Lady? Also known as a "real lady", a "true lady", simply a "lady" or an "angel in the house", she's the perfect lady in the Victorian British mindset. The Proper Lady archetype was widely used in Victorian and earlier literature. Jane Austen was one of the first authors that introduced such qualities to heroines that did not fit into the strictest view of what is acceptable for a Proper Lady, beginning the slow death of this trope. The last time it was seen alive in the West in a 100% unironic form was around the 1950s into the 1960s. Modern ones are likely to be accused of being too pure or have some quirk or flaw that sets them apart from their predecessors.

A Proper Lady is a gentle yet strong being, incorruptible and pure as the driven snow, as unlike The Vamp as she comes, and Madonna-like in her virtues. She sacrifices herself for the good of her family, religion, and country. She is intelligent enough to smoothly run a household, and wisely spends her husband's money for the good of her family, never guilty of negligence or selfish frivolity. She possesses the wit, taste, and esprit necessary to be a star of Society, and never crosses the border of good taste and civility. She is devoted and loyal, never treacherous or scheming. Her manners are never less than impeccable, and her good will and charity are a beacon to those lucky enough to live around her. She is perfectly groomed, likely beautiful or at least comely (while the female antagonist will be more beautiful and appealing). However, more important than her personal looks is her gentle smile. Because small size is endearing (and allows for protective embraces from her lucky husband or fiancé), she will probably be on the shorter side. Chances are that she has dark hair and fair skin or blonde hair with blue eyes (but in a way that doesn't make her too attractive). Parasol of Prettiness is a typical prop.

A Proper Lady might not always be able to defend herself, but should in most cases possess the strength of mind to not panic, and the willpower to never give in to any vile demands. If faced with a lethal threat from a vile character, we may see Silk Hiding Steel.

She is always upper class in the original concept of the trope. Female protagonists from lower class background, like peasant girls, tend to follow the ladylike ideals and they are supposed to model their behaviour after her. Princesses might need to go through a humbling procedure before they can be Princess Classic. Proper Lady is nearly always married, often a mother. She might also be a redundant woman or a spinster, in which case she will not be bitter about never getting married, and will instead direct her motherly instincts for the good of her sister's or brother's family. Lower class women and maidens can have many qualities of a Proper Lady, and should, per this trope and the ideals behind it, aim to be as like her as possible.

There is no upper age limit to being a Proper Lady. If a lady dies at an advanced age, her death will be dignified, probably caused by old age, and if she dies young (of nothing too unsightly), it will be a heartbreaking — but not unredeemed — tragedy. The void of her absence will affect not only her closest circle but anyone who had the good fortune to be in her presence.

Related character tropes:

Other related tropes:


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    Anime & Manga 
  • Elizabeth Middleford wants to be Proper Lady for her cousin and fiance Ciel in Black Butler. In the manga she hides her Little Miss Badass side from him, fearing he'd think she was "uncute" and reject her affection (as he was shit scared of her Almighty Mom Frances). This causes her lots of inner pain as she forces herself to hide her strength for Ciel's sake rather than her own...
  • Mimosa Vermillion from Black Clover is quite ladylike, being a polite and sweet young woman who's also a good cook. Unlike most other royals, who belittle those they see as beneath them, she's kind to almost everyone regardless of their background.
  • Vivi, Sandra, Nadia, Liliya, and Valentine from A Cruel God Reigns, and oddly enough all of them also fall under the Broken Bird trope, to varying degrees. Each girl is portrayed as sweet, loving, pure, gentle, and fragile.
  • Emma: A Victorian Romance:
    • Emma starts as a poor peasant girl, becomes a flower girl, a maid, and ends up becoming a gentleman's sweetheart. While her background technically prevents her from becoming a true lady in the society's eyes, her angel-like disposition, good education, eventual marriage (although with Nouveau Riche) and careful grooming should make her one in all but name.
    • William's mother Aurelia is a weird case. She has the status and loveable nature of a Proper Lady but also lacks the social and entertaining skills she would have needed to appeal to the London society. Despite everything, she is content to attend social life with her husband to make him appear the best he could even while she silently hates the whole thing. A wearying life filled with social obligations, combined with the strain of having children, made Aurelia physically ill. She is saved from the standard tragic death but has to leave London and basically abandon her family in order to save their face.
  • Fairy Tail:
  • Fullmetal Alchemist:
    • Ed and Al Elric's Missing Mom Trisha. In all the flashbacks she is sweet and loving to her kids and willing to wait forever for her husband.
  • Hetalia: Axis Powers has Liechtenstein, a Yamato Nadeshiko who comes from West/Central Europe rather than East Asia. She's humble, kind, quiet, deferring yet not completely submissive to her brother Switzerland, very mature for a young nation, and quite competent at housework.
  • The Shoujo manga Lady!! by Yoko Hanabusa takes the concept and makes it central to the plot.
  • As the title may indicate, Lady Jewelpet takes place in an institute that teaches girls how to be this trope. Results vary.
  • A few girls in Revolutionary Girl Utena. The series plays around with this trope a lot. Utena's not one but once tries to act like one after Touga defeats her and she temporarily loses Anthy... yet not only it's very forced, but she's only using a part of the whole concept (being passive and ladylike, but not applying the Silk Hiding Steel).
  • Windaria has Alan's House Wife Marie, a grand example of an honest and wholesome young lady. She also helps him sell their vegetables at market.
  • The Witch and the Beast. Pretty much nearly any female character is this, even Guideau dresses up quite nicely. Given the period the world is meant to be set in, it is no surprise.

  • The Mona Lisa: The painting is the emblem of the proper lady, and the ability of a woman to moderate and hide her expressions in social situations.

    Comic Books 
  • Obscure 1950s superheroine Tomboy's Secret Identity was "perfect little lady" Janie Jackson.

    Fan Works 
  • In The Fledgling Year, Action Girl/One of the Boys Aravis invokes this trope when she slips into her persona as a Tarkheena. This provokes very entertaining reactions from everyone who didn’t expect her to be capable of such suave formality and politesse.
  • Moana Dixon in The Miraculous Adventure Of Tessa And Lunala and The Lilo Adventures fits the trope. She is known for her courage and kindness, but she does have a flamboyant side to her.
    • Another main character, Brianna, also fits the trope pretty well. Like Moana, she has a kind personality and proper manners. She does get angry on some occasions, and she freaks out several times, first shown when Ash, Serena, Blake and Jasmine learn her father's identity.
  • The Night Unfurls has a couple, even though the story doesn't say anything about their marital status.
    • Celestine is praised by commoner and noble alike for her warmth and humility towards her people. Even The Cynic Kyril sees her as "pure", though he does note that her beauty and grace put her on a pedestal, attracting many who admire her for the wrong reasons. Her distain for gaudiness and extravagance compliments her vision for prosperity and peace for all people. Both versions of the story have at least one moment that showcases her resolution and strength of mind to resist panicking (e.g., leaving her palace to experience the chaos in her city in the original version, and her confrontation with The Rat in the remastered version).
    • Prim is a shy, demure Princess Classic so unironic that she would get along with her Disney counterparts. Apart from being the only female character that's described by the narration as "delicate", the increased characterisation in the remastered version accentuates her sharp mind, thoughtfulness, and belief in the good in the sinister, Dark Is Not Evil stranger that is the Hunter.

    Films — Animated 
  • Victoria from Corpse Bride is a rare clean-cut modern example without parody or deconstruction. With the Perfectly Arranged Marriage, you just know how devoted a wife she will be for lucky, lucky Victor. She seems nothing but a sweet young girl, determined to help him when he's troubled. Emily the Corpse Bride is her more enthusiastic counterpart.
  • Sally from The Nightmare Before Christmas fits this trope pretty well. She has the modest, feminine personality and attire, and is domestic and sensible. She's a leaf-filled patchwork doll with stitches all over her body and puts deadly nightshade in her creator's food and drink to get out of the house, which gives her shades of being more determined and shows she has a great desire to be free.
  • Disney Animated Canon:
    • Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs: Snow White, the first and fairest of them all, stands out as her feminine traits like domesticity and sweetness are emphasized, and thus she is the quintessential example in Disney canon.
    • Cinderella: The title character is gentle, submissive, and even when her stepmother forces her to become a servant in her own house, remains stoic and gracious.
    • Sleeping Beauty: Aurora is elegant, quiet, dutiful and obedient, including following her fairy godmother's command that she can't marry the man she loves and must return to her life as a princess.
    • The Aristocats:
      • Duchess is a regal, wealthy cat of refinement and good manners, but takes her adventures well and stays level-headed.
      • Her daughter, Marie, tries hard to be one, but with her proud attitude, it doesn't always work.
      • Their sophisticated widowed owner, Madame Bonfamille, is very proper as well.
    • Queen Elinor from Brave is refined, feminine and stops brawls through quiet dignity and a few careful words rather than with confrontation. A big part of the plot is fueled by her attempts to turn her daughter, Merida, into this.
      Elinor: A lady enjoys elegant pursuits/rises early/does not stuff her gob/does not place her weapons on the table.
    • After learning to control her powers, Elsa from Frozen is collected and poised enough to eventually be The High Queen. In A Sister More Like Me, she enjoys keeping things clean and neat, and intellectual pursuits such as geometry.
  • The Book of Life:
    • Maria's father wants her to become this, hence sending her to study abroad at a Spanish convent, so she would stop causing trouble in San Angel. Luckily for San Angel, it didn't work, and she comes back a full-fledged badass.
    • La Muerte is poised, elegant, kind, and thoughtful.
  • In Turning Red, Ming carries herself in a traditional, sophisticated, and orderly fashion. She does the same in all areas of her life, including maintaining the temple and raising her child.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • Crimson Peak deconstructs this with Lucille Sharpe, who at first glance fits the trope perfectly: she's poised, elegant, intelligent, well-spoken, beautiful, and skilled at running a household. She has appropriately feminine interests- piano and butterfly-collecting -and as a 36-year-old spinster, seems to have devoted herself to ensuring the success of her brother's business. She acts as an emotional rock for him, sacrifices her comfort for him, and pays solicitous attention to his new bride. ...but then it turns out that she and said brother have been in an incestuous relationship since childhood and they're running a Bluebeard plot that's already claimed three innocent women.
  • Hysteria: Thoroughly deconstructed. Emily Dalrymple channels this Victorian ideal of a properly feminine woman. She is a rather capable mistress of her widowed father's household and agrees to marry her father's young assistant so that his successful medical clinic could stay in the family even though she loves him more like a friend or a brother. Later she admits that she behaved like her father had expected her to behave, and she wants to be more true to herself and behave more freely.
  • A League of Their Own: Much to their surprise, the recruits of the All-American Girls Professional Baseball League are mandated to take classes at charm and beauty school ("Every girl in this league is going to be a lady"). More of a brief joke than a real plot element, since it never explicitly shows up afterwards - thus largely inverting the trope - but the absurdity of the scene is palpable.
  • Miss Meadows: Miss Meadows comes across as one. She's kind, self-assured, caring for others, intelligent and always quite genteel. Subverted in that she's troubled (to the point of limited delusions) from a very traumatic past, she sleeps with Mike after a very short time in their relationship, and, of course, the whole "deadly vigilante" thing.

  • The lady addressed/discussed in Coventry Patmore's 1854 poem The Angel in the House. This work named the ideal for the Victorian era.
  • Gone with the Wind:
    • Melanie Wilkes. She's gentle, prim, selfless, and when push comes to shove she shows she has will and guts to protect those near and dear to her. Even the feisty Scarlett who originally disliked her comes to love and miss her. Rhett Butler claims to respect Melanie deeply.
    • Scarlett's dead mother is an invoked example. She's a never-attainable ideal for Scarlett who knows her temperament and pride will never allow her to become like her mother. From how the family and especially her husband Gerald function (they don't, really) when she's gone it's quite clear she was the pillar of the household. Even some of the slaves say they miss her dearly.
  • Hortense in Small Island thinks this is how all British women of any class act, but takes it to such an extent that British people think she's weird.
  • From Charles Dickens:
    • Esther Summerson from Bleak House is a Victorian English specimen. She's kind, modest, sensible, and domestically competent; however, she's also a deconstruction of the trope, as her extreme humility seems to be in part the result of an emotionally abusive upbringing by most modern standards. She could also be interpreted as just pretending to be one as a cover for her own management skills: she takes control over situations or exerts authority over people while presenting herself as modest, unassuming, etc.
    • Amy Dorrit from Little Dorrit is a reconstruction, since her father is a former gentleman in debtor's prison who insists on his children's "gentility" while mooching and sponging off all and sundry. Despite her father's twisting of the ideal, Amy upholds true nobility of soul and ends the novel a figure of quiet purity and strength.
    • Agnes Wickfield from David Copperfield is beautiful, loving, caring and good enough to qualify for Incorruptible Pure Pureness. She's perfect and gets called an angel many, many times. She keeps her father Mr. Wickfield's house, she's immensely patient with everybody and wise beyond her years. She is self-sacrificing and supports her father who is fixated on her. She's the woman who keeps her husband's house peaceful and calm while he goes out into the world to have adventures. Her support is what enables David to get the happy family life he has always wanted (after she was forced to listen about his other loves and crushes — without a hint of resentment). The problem with Agnes's character is that she doesn't appear to want or do anything for herself. Everything she does is for others' happiness.
  • Jane Austen's novels:
    • Fanny Price subverts this trope in Mansfield Park. She's a girl from a poor family but adopted and brought up by wealthy genteel family. She is extremely gentle, passive and the doormat of almost everybody around her until they try to force her into marrying the man she doesn't love. Her firmness on this point makes her not quite a true lady, as her uncle spells out:
      Sir Thomas: I had thought you peculiarly free from wilfulness of temper, self-conceit, and every tendency to that independence of spirit which prevails so much in modern days, even in young women, and which in young women is offensive and disgusting beyond all common offence. But you have now shewn me that you can be wilful and perverse; that you can and will decide for yourself, without any consideration or deference for those who have surely some right to guide you, without even asking their advice. You have shewn yourself very, very different from anything that I had imagined.
    • Pride and Prejudice's Jane Bennet, the eldest daughter of a land-owning gentleman. She stubbornly believes the best of everyone, everyone loves her for her sweetness, and she's the only one with enough patience to put up with her perpetually querulous mother. But, like Fanny, in addition to being beautiful and kind, she's also intelligent, rational, and sensible.
    • Emma:
      • Emmas's older sister Isabella (Mrs. John Knightley) is a sweet, beautiful and elegant woman, an affectionate mother, wife, sister and daughter, and a perfect hostess. She quite fulfills the role of "angel of the house" as she never disagrees with her husband. Her brother-in-law Mr. Knightley admits that compared to Emma, Isabella's not that interesting and knows that Emma is far more intelligent.
      • Jane Fairfax is of the same age as Emma and comes from the same neighbourhood and a suitable family. Everybody expects that they should be friends, but Jane is almost too proper if you ask Emma. She's beautiful, intelligent, accomplished and gentle, and seems to be admired by everybody. Emma thinks she should be friendlier and livelier, and Mr. Knightley owns that Jane doesn't have an open temper.
  • Little Women:
    • Margaret aka Meg, Beth's eldest sister who plays Team Mom and Proper Lady to her three little sisters (shy Beth, Spirited Young Lady Jo, and Spoiled Brat Amy) and her friends (the Spoiled Sweet, but borderline Brainless Beauties Annie and Belle).
    • Elizabeth "Beth" March evolves into Proper Lady in the second part of the book, before dying. May have taken after her mother, Margaret aka Marmee. She's very selfless and self-sacrificing, almost angelic.
    • The girls' mother is a Proper Lady after having been more Hot-Blooded in her youth. Her wisdom and strong will are emphasized more than humility and kindness.
  • A Song of Ice and Fire: The female characters of A Song of Ice and Fire are portrayed as Humans Are Flawed, especially the POV characters. Sansa is a deconstruction. She's a lord's daughter and very often channels Princess Classic. She is very good at all things proper for a Westerosi noble girl at her age and is a sweet girl. This is part of the reason for conflict with her tomboyish sister Arya. However, she is also painfully naive, Thinks Like a Romance Novel and Wrong Genre Savvy. Under adversity she learns hard and slow.
  • Maria Clara de los Santos, the female lead and Love Interest in Filipino national hero Jose Rizal's novel Noli Me Tangere, is promoted as such. Being religious, the epitome of virtue, “demure and self-effacing” and endowed with beauty, grace, and charm, she was promoted by Rizal as the “ideal image” of a Filipino woman who deserves to be placed on the “pedestal of male honor” (and she apparently was an expy or Rizal's real-life love, Leonor Rivera). Modern readers and authors, however, have noted the Values Dissonance since poor Maria Clara also was "chaste, masochistic and easily fainting", calling her the "greatest misfortune that has befallen the Filipina in the last one hundred years".
  • In Death: Played with. Dr. Mira seems to give this off like pheromones. However, it was revealed early on that she had been raped by her stepfather, and she turns out to have flaws. Clarissa Price is a social worker in the story Purity In Death, who is lady-like and beautiful, which seems odd, considering that she works in a job that usually puts lines on someone's face. However, it turns out that she has failed to dot her I's and cross her T's, as well as being a party to murder, but she certainly suffered a Villainous Breakdown when Eve showed pictures of a teenaged girl who was essentially murdered by the terrorists Price was working for. Avril from Origin In Death starts off like this. However, she ends up murdering her own husband and helps in murdering people connected to him. Why? Because she is a clone created by her husband and his father, and while she would have lived with that, she found out that her husband had broken his promise to not clone their children (he was treating them as things to be replaced rather than human beings), and so she decided to go Mama Bear on him and his little science project.
  • Hopscotch: Gekrepten, Oliveira's wife/girlfriend/whatever back in Argentina. She immediately accepts him after running away to Paris and never complains the fact that he stays all day at her place, never working. Heck, she even takes care of him after the trap incident. Subverted in that, no matter what she does, Horacio will never respect, care or love her because she isn't as intelligent/interesting as La Maga or Talita.
  • Comes up in A Brother's Price, a Romance Novel with inverted gender roles. As a noble and a cousin to the royal princesses, Cullen Moorland is expected to be one of these, and he plays the part well, but he finds the expectations for being a proper young man to be boring and stifling, and he desperately envies Jerin.
  • Adele Ratignolle from Kate Chopin's novel The Awakening. Her submissiveness and devotion to her family and husband make her a foil to the protagonist Edna. Adele is extremely sweet, feminine, and fragile. However, Adele Ratignolle's open-minded Creole ways help Edna to unleash her inner self and the artist in her.
  • Sidonie "Sido" De Ville Duval from The Red Necklace. Sido is a shy, compassionate girl who is very loyal to her father even though he ignores and mistreats her constantly. Her sweet nature wins over most anyone.
  • Simona Ahrnstedt has two examples of this.
    • Sofia Löwenström in Överenskommelser is beautiful and demure and flawless, thus basically perfect according to the standards of the 1880s.
    • Venus Dag och Natt in "De skandalösa" is a 17th-century version of this, and she's beautiful, demure and near-flawless. Subverted, as she turns out to be gay, which would have been a negative trait and move her far from the ideal of femininity in her era.
  • Lissa Dragomir from Vampire Academy is gentle, strong-willed, a Socialite, is loyal to the people she cares about, has proper manners, is kind-hearted and beautiful, and is naturally upper-class.
  • The Stormlight Archive: Women of the Vorin religion are expected to be controlled, quiet, and scholarly. The vast majority of Vorin scholars are women, with the only men being ardents (who are legally genderless). The traditional Vorin dress is the havah, which is form-fitting like a qipao but without any skin showing. One of the oddities of Vorinism is that women are supposed to keep their left hands hidden at all times in a sleeve. This "safehand" is not supposed to be used for anything, so the more higher-class women become very good at only using their right hands. Peasant women just wear a glove.
  • Of Fire and Stars: Mare thinks of Dennaleia as this, and it fits her. Dennaleia is a demure, genteel Nice Girl who's 16, a Princess Classic strongly motivated to help others who is always well groomed in beautiful dresses, with dark hair and fair skin.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Dates: Erica is a very elegant, reserved and genteel woman, aside from when she's drunk, which loosens her up a bit. It's indicated that she struggles with this, since her family won't accept her being lesbian, while expecting her to sacrifice true love for them by getting with a man. She finally stops being this and does what she wants, pursuing a romance with another woman.
  • Downton Abbey:
    • The Right Honourable Cora Crawley, Countess of Grantham, the wife of Lord Grantham. She's graceful, intelligent and compassionate and she could be an English Rose...if she wasn't born American. She was born into a wealthy American family. Robert married her for her dowry to save his estate, Nobility Marries Money-style, but he fell in love with her later on.
    • Matthew's Romantic False Lead in season 2, Lavinia, with her kind, ladylike attitude. She makes a few Fee Fi Faux Pas, but just because she belongs to high bourgeoisie rather than nobility.
  • Game of Thrones:
    • Catelyn Stark is an example of this. She is an impeccable host, she's graceful, intelligent and wise, despite the fact that she can make wrong choices and say the wrong thing as much as the next person.
    • Sansa Stark initially aspires to be polite and courteous, partaking in activities like embroidery and happily going along with her Arranged Marriage, especially compared to her tomboy sister Arya. However, she lacks the poise and wisdom usually associated with this trope. She moves closer to this trope again in later seasons, but with an underlying steeliness and ruthless edge.
    • Both subverted and played straight with the women of House Tyrell. Margaery largely presents as the ideal woman valued by her society, but is able to leverage that perception to effect masterful political manipulations. Her grandmother Oleanna also superficially presents as properly feminine, but is extremely politically astute and has zero qualms taking the piss out on anyone, including her own family and social superiors.
  • House of the Dragon: Deconstructed with Alicent Hightower. A graceful, wise, and kind highborn lady, she initially fits this trope to a tee. However, she ends up being betrothed to a much older man that she does not love, becoming a Baby Factory whose sole purpose is to produce heirs for the realm, all while seeing her best friend-turned-stepdaughter indulge in scandalous but exciting affairs. Alicent does not follow in her footsteps, remaining a faithful wife and mother, but the experience turns her into a bitter and cynical Wicked Stepmother who willingly participates in the coup her family instigates to install her son to the throne.
  • The Mystic Knights of Tir Na Nóg: Largely inverted with Princess Deirdre of Kells. Even as a child, she loathed traditionally feminine skills (such as playing the harp). While she can certainly be polite and has no conflict with wearing full-length gowns on formal occasions, she is much more concerned with her kingdom and its people than presenting a “proper” facade. Not only can she fight as well as any man, she has zero qualms about stating her opinion and calling out others on their bullshit.
  • Our Miss Brooks: Mrs. Conklin fulfills this role. She's the kindly, intelligent and dignified wife of Mr. Conklin.
  • Star Trek: Amanda Grayson (aka Spock's mother) pretty much always wears nice dresses and carries herself in a refined and dignified manner, which is constant for all her portrayals. Fitting, given that she's the wife of Ambassador Sarek and would thus be expected to fill this role.
  • Supernatural: In the episode "What Is And What Should Never Be", Mary from 'wishverse' is portrayed as incredibly gentle and devoted, appearing as a Madonna-like character.
  • Upstairs Downstairs:
    • Lady Marjorie is adored by her husband and servants, and a Proper Lady through and through. Her saintliness is tarnished only by a short affair she was quick to regret. Also gets a tragic death. Of course, after she dies, everything starts to slowly fall to pieces.
    • Hazel Bellamy is a steel core lady, very refined and composed, although not of genteel pedigree. A rare example of a Proper Lady who has ever actually done working class work.

  • Tom Jones' "She's a Lady" seems to describe this sort of woman. She's got style, she's got grace, always something nice to say and so on.

    Mythology and Religion 
  • The Ancient Greek concept of arete (virtue/excellence) as applied to women matches all the values of the Proper Lady, making this Older Than Feudalism.
    • Odysseus' wife Penelope from the ancient epic The Odyssey was presented as the Ur-Example. Domestic and beautiful, she has stayed faithful to Odysseus, waiting for him for twenty years.
    • Queen Alcestis, the only one brave and loving enough to offer her own life in exchange for her husband Admetus'. Luckily for her, Admetus happened to have an old friend named Heracles, who offered to bring her back from the Underworld... and did so by wrestling The Grim Reaper.
  • The Virgin Mary is presented as the epitome of this trope, she being the perfect mother figure (indeed, the mother of Jesus Himself and spiritual mother to all His followers) and all. She's presented as beautiful and graceful, humble, chaste, wise, and altruistic. She is held up as the perfect woman, and many Christian girls (especially Catholic ones) as well as Muslim girls, are encouraged to be more like her. Many female Catholic saints also qualify, although many others are subversions. Notably, along with the Virgin Mary, they were an important part of forming this ideal.

  • Pygmalion and the later version My Fair Lady are about attempting to groom a poor girl into a lady. It works rather well — except that the girl also gains enough dignity and self-respect that she walks out. In the play Pygmalion, she never comes back.

    Video Games 
  • Fire Emblem: The Blazing Blade has the trope discussed in a few support conversations, notably between Eliwood and Lyn, and between Louise and Rebecca. Lyn confides to Eliwood that the chancellor in Caelin Castle doesn't think she acts enough like a noble lady, and hoped that she could meet somebody who could teach her. Meanwhile, Rebecca wants to be more graceful and elegant for the person she likes, so she asks Louise how to be a proper lady. In both cases, they're told to just be the way they are instead of trying to change.
  • Some of the Multiple Endings in the Princess Maker franchise, if your daughter's skills fall on the domestic side (high conversation, temperance, cooking, and cleaning). Specially obvious in the "homemaker" ending, but also invoked in the "tutor", "babysitter", "millionaire's wife", "merchant's wife", "maid" and "Queen Consort" ones.
  • Subverted with Akatsuki in KanColle. Her insistence on being treated like a proper lady has the opposite effect of making her looking childish instead.
  • Dragon Quest V: Flora/Nera is a model maiden: demure, compassionate, good with children and animals... and she is scion of an ancient aristocratic family. Unusually, for once, her type is significantly less popular among the Japanese fanbase than her romantic rival, largely due to the Guilt-Based Gaming of the original version.

    Web Comics 

    Western Animation 
  • Around the World in Eighty Days: Belinda Maze is not only a Victorian lady, but she's also devoted to her beloved Phileas Fogg and certainly nicer than her rotten uncle Lord Maze.
  • My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic: Rarity believes herself to be this, and certainly acts the part in high society. It's the things she does around her friends and threats to them that prevent her from really living up to this ideal.
  • Phineas and Ferb: The episode "My Fair Goalie" has Candace demands to her English cousin Eliza train her in the basics of being a proper lady, to which the Englishwoman reluctantly approves. She reverts back to being her usual self at the end.
  • The Pixie Tune in Winx Club. She holds the image of a 'perfect lady' in the way she talks and acts proper just like a lady should. Ironically, she is the bonded pixie of Musa, the Tomboy member of the Winx.

    Real Life 
  • Princess Elisabeth of Hesse and by Rhine, the beautiful and pious sister-in-law to Czar Nicholas II. When her husband Sergei was brutally assassinated, she didn't hold a grudge against his killers and pardoned them publicly before becoming a nun and selling all of her jewelry to use the money for charity. She was later assassinated during the Russian Revolution and was raised to sainthood in the Russian Orthodox Church as a holy martyr.
  • An agency in London gave lessons on how to be a Proper Lady called the "Princess Prep" workshop.
  • Princess Alice, the third of Queen Victoria and Prince Albert's nine children, was beloved by her family for her selfless and considerate nature. When Albert died of typhoid fever, Victoria was thrown into deep mourning from which she never completely recovered, and it was Alice who took over many of the details of the royal household; one of Victoria's courtiers even referred to the princess in writings as "the angel in the house."
  • Lady Diana Spencer, still known as "Princess Diana" by people who like her (which is a lot), was a zig-zagged example. She was accepted as a member of The British Royal Family because of her proper behavior and manners, but after her marriage to Prince Charles, she showed some harmless rebellious streaks such as disobeying some of the Royal fashion rules. However, in the end, she did remain a proper lady and a great mother.

Alternative Title(s): Angel In The House, True Lady, Victorian Lady