as beautifully dressed as birds

by Erin on June 29, 2007


DORA. Then, we are all to learn dress-making, are we?

OLD LECTURER. Yes; and always to dress yourselves beautifully—not finely, unless on occasion, but then very finely and beautifully too. Also you are to dress as many other people as you can; and to teach them how to dress if they don't know; and to consider every ill-dressed woman or child whom you see anywhere, as a personal disgrace; and to get at them, somehow, until everybody is as beautifully dressed as birds.

from John Ruskin, The Ethics of the Dust (1891)

Why doesn't Ruskin's "Old Lecturer" tell the girls to "get at" men, too? Why are ill-dressed men not a "personal disgrace" to them? Discuss.

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