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Thanks! -- Arnie Perlstein, now living in "Portlandia"!

Thursday, April 2, 2015

The Hancock/Patriot Charade & Shakespearean Brothel subtexts in Emma: Part Two

In followup to my posts of the past several days, in particular my response two hours ago to Diane Reynolds, I am now back at my desk and able to easily search my old files, and I wish to add the following additional substantiating nuggets to the claims I’ve previously presented:

First, as I recalled, Jane Austen did indeed find the source for (what I claim is) her “Patriot/Hancock” charade in the very same book that also contained

(1) a version of Garrick’s Riddle (recalled by Mr. Woodhouse),
(2) the “woman” charade (previously given to Emma and Harriet by Mr. Elton), and
(3) as I explained in my posts last week about Margaret Doody, a different “courtship” charade from the one that JA wrote herself that appears in Chapter 9 of Emma.

Here’s what I wrote in my files 5 ½ years ago about that private charade:

“In both the 1791 and the 1810 editions of Enigmas, Charades, Transpositions, And Queries, I found the following earlier version of this charade:

I with a housemaid once was curst,
Whose name, when shorten’d, FORMS my first;
She, an ill-natured jade was reckon’d,
And in MY house oft BRED my second;

The answer is given as “pat-riot” or “patriot”, but the clueing for that second syllable is pretty unsatisfying to me, and, I suspect, was very unsatisfying to the young sharp-witted Jane Austen as well.

Now, compare that inferior charade to the handwritten text of the much improved Austen version thereof:

 “I with a Housemaid once was curst,
Whose name when shortened MAKES my first;
She an ill natured Jade was reckoned,
And in THE house oft RAISED my second,

Obviously, the words in all caps are the ones that Jane Austen changed. Note first that (just as she did when she tinkered with the “woman” charade, and also with the 1816 Byron poem about Napoleon that I wrote about several years ago), JA made changes which create the second hidden answer, “Hancock”, where it did not exist in the original.

Also note that while the original began with suggestions of bawdiness, those hints are not expressed in the punch lines, which are utterly chaste. Whereas, in JA’s version, the sexual innuendoes of the first two clues are heightened (“raised”  and “stands” are both phallic, whereas “bred” is not).  It could not be clearer that JA had the full intent to tweak the original to make it very sexual.

And…it also just occurred to me now as I was looking at JA’s charade, that there appears to be an acrostic that was not there in the original 1791 version, but which JA’s changing “Tho’” to “Exalting” brought into existence, as you can see here:

 “I with a Housemaid once was curst,
Whose name when shortened MAKES my first;

S    he an ill natured Jade was reckoned,
A   nd in THE house oft RAISED my second,

What makes this being intentional more likely, I think, is that “same” rhymes with “fame” and “name”, words which end the last two lines containing the acrostic! It’s pretty cool that the vertical acrostic therefore rhymes with the horizontal rhymes

Now, whether that acrostic “same” means more than that, I can’t say—is it a suggestion that both answers to the charade, “patriot” and “Hancock” are the SAME? In one sense they are—John Hancock was indeed considered (by Americans, at least) a patriot. Anyone got any other suggestions?

In any event, perhaps all of this finely wrought subtext will make some of you wonder why JA did not find a way to work this charade into Emma as well.  I.e., if she lavished such care on it, just as she did on all the nuances of the “courtship” charade that did make it into Emma, why let it go to waste, when it so clearly was connected thematically to Emma?

I obviously can’t answer with any certainty, but my best guess is that she feared that the reference to “an ill natured jade” was a little too suggestive of sexual meanings, when coupled with “ raised” and “stands”, plus (as I wrote earlier) the secret answer did point directly to her own aunt’s married surname. Such that if anyone in her family had guessed the answer, it might be hard to predict their reaction.

And I think JA did not want to take ANY chances that Emma would not get published-it was clearly the culmination of everything she had been doing as a writer for more than 25 years. Better to leave that one in the family vault, as a private joke. The “Prince of Whales” was sufficiently well disguised, such that even a reader familiar with Lamb’s “Triumph of the Whale” or Cruikshank’s caricature on the same theme would have difficulty detecting the dangerously subversive hidden answer.

And finally I did mention Shakespeare’s Pericles in my earlier posts, so I will conclude with quotations from four passages in Shakespeare’s plays, one of which is instantly recognizable, the first three of which contains wordplay relating to brothels, and the last of which reinforces my claim that Jane Fairfax is Jane Austen’s version of Marina, daughter of Pericles, who escapes the brothel to which she is sold by means of her singing and moral persuasiveness:

Hamlet, 1.1:
'I saw him enter such a HOUSE OF SALE,'
Videlicet, a BROTHEL, or so forth….

[Recall Jane Fairfax’s famous comment about the sale of human flesh/intellect]

Hamlet, 3.1:

[Note the comically ridiculous explanations given to Emma about Jane’s future plans when Miss Campbell marries Mr. Dixon:

“With the fortitude of a devoted novitiate, she had resolved at one-and-twenty to complete the sacrifice, and retire from all the pleasures of life, of rational intercourse, equal society, peace and hope, to penance and mortification for ever.”
This is all bubba meises---the reality is that, like Dionyza and Cleon in Pericles, the last thing the Campbells want is for the beautiful and accomplished Jane Fairfax to be a constant tempting reminder to Mr. Dixon of whom he might have married instead!
But my point is that JA also intended by this passage to echo Hamlet’s bitter rejection of Ophelia after (so I believe) he learns that she is pregnant by…..someone else at Elsinore—he’s saying in effect, you are a whore, so go to a whorehouse where you belong—and that is more or less what I believe Jane Fairfax has to contend with behind the scenes throughout the 9-month chronology of Emma]

Much Ado, 1.1
BENEDICK : With anger, with sickness, or with hunger, my lord, not with love: prove that ever I lose more blood with love than I will get again with drinking, pick out mine eyes with a ballad-maker's pen and hang me up at the door of a BROTHEL-HOUSE for THE SIGN OF BLIND CUPID.

[Garrick’s Riddle makes much of Cupid, quenching of flames, etc etc]

Pericles 5.0 (i.e., Prologue)
Marina thus the BROTHEL 'scapes, and chances
Into an honest house, our story says.
As goddess-like to HER ADMIRED LAYS;
Deep clerks she dumbs; and with her needle composes
Nature's own shape, of bud, bird, branch, or berry,
That even her art sisters the natural roses;
Her inkle, silk, twin with the rubied cherry:
That PUPILS LACKS SHE NONE of noble race,
Who pour their bounty on her; and HER GAIN  

Note that last part about how Marina’s “gain she gives the cursed bawd”. It is my interpretation that Miss Bates only gets room & some limited board as her compensation for acting as madam of the brothel downstairs, and that is why she still depends on charity from Mr. Woodhouse and Mr. Knightley to get by. It’s classic exploitation by sexual exploiters to keep their victims alive, but utterly dependent on them, indefinitely. I’d say Mr. & Mrs. Cole are not nice people, and so how poignant when Miss Bates and Jane attend the grand fete chez Cole in Chapter 38

Cheers, ARNIE
@JaneAustenCode on Twitter

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