n.1.A woman's light scarflike head covering, usually knit or crocheted of wool.
References in classic literature ?
Anxious to please him, she raced round the beds till she came back to the porch where he stood, and, dropping down upon the steps, she sat panting, with cheeks as rosy as the rigolette on her shoulders.
Informing La Goualeuse that "c'est ta vocation de porter un bonnet de paysanne, comme la mienne de porter un bonnet de grisette," Rigolette responds naively to her friend's appearance as she relies on the metonymic function of clothing and accessories to announce one's occupation and consequent social standing (Sue 833).
Because working women like Rigolette and La Goualeuse, attired in the unofficial uniforms associated with their occupations, were instantly recognizable, they were inherently limited vis-a-vis their share of the metropolis.
Yet neither La Goualeuse nor Rigolette conform to the stereotypical wantonness of grisettes, and through them Sue challenges the notorious sexual availability of employed lower-class women.
In order to trade sexual servitude and economic vulnerability for tranquility and safety within the patriarchal family, La Goualeuse, La Louve, and even the virtuous Rigolette must leave the city behind in favor of more rural retreats.
Orphaned and imprisoned for vagrancy, both women seek to support themselves through sewing upon their release from prison, but only Rigolette thinks to first establish a proper home which can inspire the confidence of prospective employers.
Through Rigolette, however, Sue shows that the type can embrace alternate destinies.
Rigolette is the novel's striking example of a working girl made good, and Sue renders her (and not La Goualeuse) the rule rather than the exception.
Even before Rigolette is engulfed by Rodolphe's project of working-class bourgeosification, however, she defies the stereotypes associated with her type and bends the rules by which all Parisian grisettes were known to live.
Unlike La Goualeuse, however, whose earlier refuge on the same farm necessitates a full costume change, Rigolette refuses to trade her city clothes for an outfit more suitable to country life.
Si Les Mysteres de Paris offrent un panorama assez complet des possibilites de travail qui s'offrent aux femmes du peuple dans cette premiere moitie du siecle (avec l'exception toutefois du travail en usine, qui ne figure pas dans le roman), il est tres revelateur qu'aucune d'entre elles--pas meme Rigolette, la grisette vertueuse et econome--ne peut vraiment esperer s'en tirer sans l'aide providentielle de Rodolphe.
He used the term "grisettes" in describing the courtesan Rigolette in the Mysteries.