Face powder. English ladies in the nineteenth century tried to remain pale because tanned skin was associated with a working-class existence. Recall, for example, Ralph Rackstraw’s “honest brown right hand.” In Pride and Prejudice (20) the snobbish Miss Bingley criticizes the heroine, Elizabeth Bennet, by remarking, “She has grown brown and coarse!” Pearly white or gray powder was most effective in covering any such signs of exposure to the sun (251). You will now understand why the Mikado’s threat to darken ladies’ faces with permanent walnut juice was so frightening.

Act I