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

Wednesday, September 13, 2017

The common Shakespearean source for the dreams of Milton's Eve and Austen's Frank Churchill

I ended my immediately preceding post (on August 28) about the word games at Hartfield as follows:

“And finally, we can add the Strange Case of the Swept-Away Third Word to the numerous other plays on the number 3 in Emma (which points to the allusive presence of Mozart’s The Magic Flute):
the 3 come-at-able ladies, the 3 teachers at Mrs. Goddard’s school, the 3 turns that Mr. Woodhouse takes during his constitutional, the apples baked 3 times at Hartfield, Mrs. Smallridge’s 3 girls, and the “three things very dull indeed” that Frank solicits at Box Hill – to that we can now add, the 3 words at the Hartfield game table!
And that brings me to the end of Part One. In Part Two, which, as I promised, will be forthcoming in the next few days, I will demonstrate that there’s a whole lot more to the word “pardon” at the Hartfield game table than I have discussed above. There’s a Shakespearean meaning which points the finger ten times more pointedly at Jane Fairfax’s concealed pregnancy!”

Now, on to Part Two, and my promise to reveal a Shakespearean meaning pointed to by the word "pardon" in that Hartfield puzzle table scene, that I say substantiates my longstanding claim about Jane Fairfax's concealed pregnancy.  I've now been able to connect the allusive dots to a famous work by a third immortal English author besides Shakespeare and Jane Austen – as my Subject Line has already revealed, I’m referring to John Milton and his masterpiece, Paradise Lost, in which, of course, the female protagonist is Eve, who, like Austen's Frank Churchill, dreams.

While the textual evidence I’ve now collected has grown far too voluminous and complex for a single blog post, I do want at least to present the highlights of my overall conclusions. But first, for those who enjoy literary quizzes, here are two questions, which I will answer, immediately thereafter, below, about that Shakespearean source:


1. What famous passage in one of Shakespeare's most famous plays is the common, significant source winked at by the following two, seemingly unrelated, passages about dreams written by Milton and Austen?
2. What are the deepest meanings of the connection among those three Shakespeare, Milton & Austen passages?

ONE: Eve’s eloquent speech just before she and Adam walk out of paradise into the cold, hard world at the very end of Paradise Lost:

Descended, Adam to the Bowre where Eve
  Lay SLEEPING ran before, but found her WAK'T;
  And thus with words not sad she him receav'd.
    Whence thou returnst, whither wentst, I know;
  For God is also in SLEEP, and DREAMS advise,
  Which he hath sent propitious, some great good
  Presaging, since with sorrow and hearts distress
  Wearied I fell ASLEEP: but now lead on;
  In mee is no delay; with thee to goe,
  Is to stay here; without thee here to stay,
  Is to go hence unwilling; thou to mee
  Art all things under Heav'n, all places thou,
  Who for my wilful crime art banisht hence.
  This further consolation yet secure
  I CARRY hence; though all by mee is lost,
  Such favour I unworthie am voutsaft,
  By mee THE PROMIS'D SEED shall all restore.
    So spake our Mother EVE, and ADAM heard
  Well pleas'd, but answer'd not…

TWO: Frank Churchill’s dream about Mr. Perry’s carriage, right before the three puzzle words:

 As they were turning into the grounds, Mr. Perry passed by on horseback. The gentlemen spoke of his horse.
“By the bye,” said Frank Churchill to Mrs. Weston presently, “what became of Mr. Perry’s plan of setting up his CARRIAGE?”
Mrs. Weston looked surprized, and said, “I did not know that he ever had any such plan.”
“Nay, I had it from you. You wrote me word of it three months ago.”
“Me! impossible!”
“Indeed you did. I remember it perfectly. You mentioned it as what was certainly to be very soon. Mrs. Perry had told somebody, and was extremely happy about it. It was owing to her persuasion, as she thought his being out in bad weather did him a great deal of harm. You must remember it now?”
“Upon my word I never heard of it till this moment.”
“Never! really, never!—Bless me! how could it be?—Then I must have DREAMT it—but I was completely persuaded—Miss Smith, you walk as if you were tired. You will not be sorry to find yourself at home.”
“What is this?—What is this?” cried Mr. Weston, “about Perry and a carriage? Is Perry going to set up his CARRIAGE, Frank? I am glad he can afford it. You had it from himself, had you?”
“No, sir,” replied his son, laughing, “I seem to have had it from nobody.—Very odd!—I really was persuaded of Mrs. Weston’s having mentioned it in one of her letters to Enscombe, many weeks ago, with all these particulars—but as she declares she never heard a syllable of it before, of course it must have been a DREAM. I am a great DREAMER. I DREAM of every body at Highbury when I am away—and when I have gone through my particular friends, then I begin DREAMING of Mr. and Mrs. Perry.”
“It is odd though,” observed his father, “that you should have had such a regular connected DREAM about people whom it was not very likely you should be thinking of at Enscombe. Perry’s setting up his CARRIAGE! and his wife’s persuading him to it, out of care for his health—just what will happen, I have no doubt, some time or other; only a little premature. What an air of probability sometimes runs through a dream! And at others, what a heap of absurdities it is! Well, Frank, your DREAM certainly shews that Highbury is in your thoughts when you are absent. Emma, you are a great DREAMER, I think?”
Emma was out of hearing. She had hurried on before her guests to prepare her father for their appearance, and was beyond the reach of Mr. Weston’s hint.
“Why, to own the truth,” cried Miss Bates, who had been trying in vain to be heard the last two minutes, “if I must speak on this subject, there is no denying that Mr. Frank Churchill might have—I do not mean to say that he did not DREAM it—I am sure I have sometimes the oddest DREAMS in the world—but if I am questioned about it, I must acknowledge that there was such an idea last spring; for Mrs. Perry herself mentioned it to my mother, and the Coles knew of it as well as ourselves—but it was quite a secret, known to nobody else, and only thought of about three days. Mrs. Perry was very anxious that he  should have a CARRIAGE, and came to my mother in great spirits one morning because she thought she had prevailed. Jane, don’t you remember grandmama’s telling us of it when we got home? I forget where we had been walking to—very likely to Randalls; yes, I think it was to Randalls. Mrs. Perry was always particularly fond of my mother—indeed I do not know who is not—and she had mentioned it to her in confidence; she had no objection to her telling us, of course, but it was not to go beyond: and, from that day to this, I never mentioned it to a soul that I know of. At the same time, I will not positively answer for my having never dropt a hint, because I know I do sometimes POP OUT A THING before I am aware. I am a talker, you know; I am rather a talker; and now and then I have LET A THING ESCAPE ME which I should not. I am not like Jane; I wish I were. I will answer for it she never betrayed the least thing in the world. Where is she?—Oh! just behind. Perfectly remember Mrs. Perry’s coming.—Extraordinary DREAM, indeed!”
They were entering the hall. Mr. Knightley’s eyes had preceded Miss Bates’s in a glance at Jane. From Frank Churchill’s face, where he thought he saw confusion suppressed or laughed away, he had involuntarily turned to hers; but she was indeed behind, and too busy with her shawl. Mr. Weston had walked in. The two other gentlemen waited at the door to let her pass. Mr. Knightley suspected in Frank Churchill the determination of catching her eye—he seemed watching her intently—in vain, however, if it were so—Jane passed between them into the hall, and looked at neither.
There was no time for farther remark or explanation. THE DREAM MUST BE BORNE with…

The Shakespeare passage, and the play it appears in, which is the common source for both the above-quoted Austen and the Milton passages, is one which.... strongly hinted at by puns on the words I've put in ALL CAPS in the above two passages; parodically alluded to in A Midsummer Night's Dream; explicitly quoted by Emma while speaking about Jane Fairfax; AND connected to Paradise Lost via yet another Shakespearean word puzzle which Jane Austen recognized. 





The Shakespearean play which is the common source for the above quoted passages in Emma and Paradise Lost is Romeo & Juliet, and the speech which contains all those same keywords, is the famous "Queen Mab" speech by Mercutio about dreams which ends as follows:

.......This is that very Mab
That plaits the manes of horses in the night
And bakes the elflocks in foul sluttish hairs,
Which once untangled, much misfortune bodes.
This is the hag, when MAIDS LIE ON THEIR BACKS,
That presses them and learns them first TO BEAR, 


Of course, the capitalized words in the last three lines of Mercutio's speech contain several puns on women having sex, getting pregnant, carrying the unborn baby, and then bearing the child. That's exactly what I claim Milton was pointing to when Eve, speaking of her final dream, says, "I CARRY hence; though all by mee is lost,  Such favour I unworthie am voutsaft, By mee THE PROMIS'D SEED shall all restore"; and what Jane Austen was pointing to when first Frank, and then Miss Bates, go on an on about Frank's supposed dream about Mr. Perry's carriage.

Eve’s last dream in Paradise Lost speaks to her acceptance of life outside Eden, and Milton lifts Mercutio’s pun on “carriage” as pregnancy, and used it to describe Eve's being given the gift of carrying babies to birth in the postlapsarian world.

And that allusion by Milton to Mercutio's speech ties in perfectly with what I first wrote about in 2014 about the "SATAN" acrostic in Friar Laurence's speech to Juliet about the sleeping potion he gives to her, which I claim Milton intentionally alluded to with his "SATAN" acrostic in Book 9 of Paradise Lost, which was my first window into how pervasively Milton alluded to Romeo & Juliet, a major allusion unnoticed by any Milton scholar prior to myself. 


The above is just the tip of the proverbial iceberg of the multilayered allusion by Jane Austen, via the shadow heroine of Emma, Jane Fairfax, pointing to both Juliet in Romeo & Juliet, and to Eve in Paradise LostHere are some highlights of this complex allusion:

From the moment Emma was published, it has been recognized that Emma slightly misquotes Romeo's speech to the apothecary, when Mrs. Weston and Emma discuss Emma's shock at hearing about Jane's concealment of her romantic connection to Frank all along:

 "...[I] still am disposed to give her credit for, in spite of this one great deviation from the strict rule of right. And how much may be said in her situation for even that ERROR!”
“Much, indeed!” cried Emma feelingly. “If a woman can ever be excused for thinking only of herself, it is in a situation like Jane Fairfax’s.—Of such, one may almost say, that ‘the world is not their’s, nor the world’s law.’”

However, no Austen scholar before myself has recognized that Romeo & Juliet is winked at all over the place in the text of Emma. And, at the center of that global allusion is Jane Fairfax's pregnancy -- because Juliet is also dealing being a single woman (actually a girl) with the same problem as Jane Fairfax - Juliet (like Ophelia in Hamlet) is pregnant (impregnated against her will by her monstrous, pedophilic father Lord Capulet), and so Juliet throws herself at Romeo in the hope of finding a husband who will legitimize her baby, and also to allow her to avoid having to marry Paris –which is exactly the same desperate strategy I see Jane Fairfax employing vis a vis Frank Churchill at Weymouth.

That quotation by Emma about "the world's law" is also a re-quotation from the famous Misella essays in Samuel Johnson's Rambler, which are about the misery of women forced into prostitution by the norms of a cruelly sexist English society- which is exactly the fate that Mrs. Elton threatens Jane Fairfax with, before Mrs. Weston bails Jane out by taking Jane’s baby and pretending it is her own – little Anna Weston.

In the two instances when Emma’s overheated imagination focuses on Jane’s feelings about Mr. Dixon, and on Jane's rebuff of Emma's offered gift of arrowroot, as “poison”, we hear the distinct echo of the deadly "poison" Romeo acquires from that same apothecary to whom he utters those same words about “the world’s law”.

The incestuous pedophilia of Capulet that I see in Romeo & Juliet is echoed not only by Mr. Woodhouse’s dangerous interest in his own daughters, but by the pedophilia that saturates another Shakespeare play that I’ve previously claimed on several occasions is a key source for Emma – Pericles, Prince of Tyre. And so we now have key sources for Jane Fairfax in both Juliet and in Pericles’ gifted daughter, Marina.

The apples Jane Fairfax eats not only point to Milton’s Eve, but also to the secretly pregnant, unmarried, historical Anne Boleyn, who famously hinted publicly at her own pregnancy by Henry VIII, in order to embarrass the King to marry her.

I've gather a great deal of textual evidence to back up each of the above highlighted claims, and several other lesser aspects as well, enough to write a whole book chapter unpacking it all. But for today, the above will have to do.

Cheers, ARNIE

@JaneAustenCode on Twitter

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