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

Saturday, June 9, 2018

Hamlet & Ophelia reborn as Darcy & Eliza? Hamlet as key source of Pride & Prejudice: PART TWO

In my recent post “Shakespeare’s Hamlet as Major Allusive Source for Austen’s Pride & Prejudice   I gave my answers to the first 15 clues referred to in my main quiz question about “a work of literature which fits each and every one of the following 37 (+1) clues, from the macro scale all the way down to the micro. What is its title, and who wrote it?”

That was a trick question, because I was thinking of not one, but two works of literature which fit all those same 38 clues: Hamlet AND Pride & Prejudice. That Austen, in writing P&P, might’ve drawn heavily not only from recognizable sources like the Bard’s great romantic comedies (Much Ado, As You Like It, Taming of the Shrew, Twelfth Night), but also on Hamlet’s tragicomic, morally murky world, has never previously been dreamt of in the philosophy of other Austen and Shakespeare scholars.

In my answers to the first 15 clues, I presented my “philosophy” on this point -- a prima facie case that Austen wanted her knowing readers to think of Hamlet as they read P&P, and then ask why. However, I coyly avoided any explanation for exactly why Austen would do this. Was it no more than a sub rosa, clever wink or homage, or does recognizing Austen’s allusion in P&P to Hamlet actually add useful insight into the love story of Darcy and Elizabeth?

As you might’ve guessed, I believe it does provide insight into the heart of P&P’s story; and today, in Part Two (with Part Three to come later), I’ll explain how the most significant of the remaining clues  all converge, remarkably, on the troubled, UNromantic, relationship between Hamlet and Ophelia.

CLUE #16: “The hero makes a famous generalization about each person having one particular natural defect.”

Early in P&P, haughty Mr. Darcy, provoked and wounded by Elizabeth’s sharp-witted challenge to justify his poor treatment of Wickham, momentarily weakens and acknowledges a flaw; but then, instantly recovering,  tries to salvage his pride by deflecting criticism from himself, and instead generalizing about the “natural” “particular evil” “in every disposition” -i.e., it’s not just him, it’s everyone; and anyway, he can’t help it, it’s just his nature!:

“,,,My good opinion once lost, is lost forever.”
That is a failing indeed!” cried Elizabeth. “Implacable resentment is a shade in a character. But you have chosen your fault well. I really cannot laugh at it. You are safe from me.”
“There is, I believe, in every disposition a tendency to some particular evil—a natural defect, which not even the best education can overcome.”
“And your defect is to hate everybody.”
“And yours,” he replied with a smile, “is willfully to misunderstand them.”

Now, let’s look at Hamlet, telling Horatio about his uncle the new king, Claudius, and his courtiers, raising hell in customary Danish drunkenness:

“Ay, marry, is't: But to my mind, though I am native here And to the manner born, it is a custom More honour'd in the breach than the observance. This heavy-headed revel east and west Makes us traduced and tax'd of other nations: They clepe us drunkards, and with swinish phrase Soil our addition; and indeed it takes From our achievements, though perform'd at height, The pith and marrow of our attribute. So, oft it chances in particular men, That for some vicious mole of nature in them, As, in their birth--wherein they are not guilty, Since nature cannot choose his origin-- By the o'ergrowth of some complexion, Oft breaking down the pales and forts of reason, Or by some habit that too much o'er-leavens The form of plausive manners, that these men, Carrying, I say, the stamp of one defect, Being nature's livery, or fortune's star,-- Their virtues else--be they as pure as grace, As infinite as man may undergo-- Shall in the general censure take corruption From that particular fault: the dram of eale [evil?] Doth all the noble substance of a doubt  To his own scandal.”

Note how Hamlet also seems to let slip a damaging personal admission (other nations “clepe US as drunkards” – sounds like Hamlet himself gets “heavy-headed”, too!), and then, in a defensive reflex just like Darcy’s, segues to the flaws of unnamed “particular men”, and lays the blame on that great villain who’s “really” responsible --nature. That sure suggests to me that Darcy knew Hamlet well, and took inspiration from Hamlet’s above speech.

Actually, this parallel between Hamlet’s and Darcy’s speeches was first noted by Frank Bradbrook in Jane Austen & Her Predecessors way back in 1967:
“Darcy, too, refers indirectly to [Hamlet]: ‘There is, I believe, in every disposition, a tendency to some particular evil, a natural defect which not even the best education can overcome.’ Hamlet’s remarks, from which Darcy’s derive, reflect general Elizabethan theories concerning human character and behaviour: [quotation of Hamlet’s above “dram of eale” speech]”

However, I think Bradbrook’s explanation missed the key point of the hero’s defensiveness:
Here, as in the case of Henry Crawford, there is an element of unconscious irony. For the viciousness of Darcy is due to his birth and his mistaken pride in his rank, and he has to learn to eradicate this defect. The element of evil in Darcy mars and flaws the essential nobility of his nature, and leads to a scandalous impropriety of behaviour. The psychology that lies behind Darcy’s self-criticism can be traced back through the 18th century doctrine of the prevailing passion, familiar through Pope’s An Essay on Man, to Jonson’s theory of the humours, reflected in Hamlet’s speech.”

And the parallel between Darcy’s and Hamlet’s said speeches was also noted and discussed again in “P&P: Acting by Design“ by Juliet McMaster in 1981, but she also misses the mark, seeing the speech as evidence of Darcy’s insight into Elizabeth, instead of revelation of his own lack of self-awareness:
“It is Darcy, in fact, who is most clear-sighted about the artificial aspect of Elizabeth’s style. In the playful discussion between them at Netherfield when they spar on the subject of each other's characters, Darcy develops within the comic context of the fatal flaw, a kind of comic hamartia that is this novel's version of Hamlet's "vicious mole of nature":  "There is, I believe, in every disposition a tendency to some particular eviI, a natural defect….’ Darcy has hit off her flaw quite accurately, and shows himself in this case to be a more effective studier of character than Elizabeth the specialist…”
And that provides a perfect segue to the next clue:

CLUE #17: “The hero experiences an ambivalent attraction to the heroine, and other characters speculate about this, including about the obstacle posed by the large difference in status between them.”

It is utterly uncontroversial that Hamlet experiences an ambivalent attraction to Ophelia, and that both her father, Polonius, and brother, Laertes, are laser-focused on their shared worry that Hamlet, the prince, will take sexual advantage of Ophelia, a mere courtier’s daughter, and then jilt her:

Polonius: “...For Lord Hamlet, Believe so much in him, that he is young And with a larger tether may he walk Than may be given you

Later, when Hamlet begins acting really cuckoo, Polonius does a uey, and decides that Hamlet not only loves Ophelia, his recent antic behavior is caused by lovesickness for Ophelia, after she has stopped receiving his advances, on Polonius’s instruction. And it seems he is right, because thereafter Hamlet does behave cruelly toward Ophelia, casting crude aspersions in thinly-veiled revenge for her rejection.

Now for Darcy. It is equally incontrovertible that he experiences a very similar ambivalent attraction to the lower-born Eliza, which he keeps to himself – but Austen makes sure to give us just enough access to Darcy’s thoughts on a couple of occasions, so that we know it for sure. E.g.:
“Elizabeth had been at Netherfield long enough. She attracted him more than he liked—and Miss Bingley was uncivil to her, and more teasing than usual to himself. He wisely resolved to be particularly careful that no sign of admiration should now escape him, nothing that could elevate her with the hope of influencing his felicity; sensible that if such an idea had been suggested, his behaviour during the last day must have material weight in confirming or crushing it. Steady to his purpose, he scarcely spoke ten words to her through the whole of Saturday, and though they were at one time left by themselves for half-an-hour, he adhered most conscientiously to his book, and would not even look at her.

Then we hear his full-throated ambivalence in his botched first proposal:
“He sat down for a few moments, and then getting up, walked about the room. Elizabeth was surprised, but said not a word. After a silence of several minutes, he came towards her in an agitated manner, and thus began: “In vain I have struggled. It will not do. My feelings will not be repressed. You must allow me to tell you how ardently I admire and love you.”

And here’s what he unleashes on Eliza in the first flush of his narcissistic injury, in his astonishment and “bitterness of spirt” upon her rejection thereof:
“…These bitter accusations might have been suppressed, had I, with greater policy, concealed my struggles, and flattered you into the belief of my being impelled by unqualified, unalloyed inclination; by reason, by reflection, by everything. But disguise of every sort is my abhorrence. Nor am I ashamed of the feelings I related. They were natural and just. Could you expect me to rejoice in the inferiority of your connections?—to congratulate myself on the hope of relations, whose condition in life is so decidedly beneath my own?”

Once again, Austen has drawn upon her sharp, close reading of Hamlet and Ophelia, to subtly inform  her two (at times not so) merry warriors, Darcy and Eliza. And that leads directly to the next clue:

CLUE #18: “The hero engages with the heroine in famous sexual repartee, focused on the word ‘country’ (a la Samantha Bee vis a vis Ivanka Trump) and the word ‘nothing’.”

Amidst all the furor last week (which, curiously, has subsided as quickly as it spiked) over Samantha Bee’s usage of the C-Word in publicly addressing Ivanka Trump, it occurred to me that this 2018 furor was connected in an elusive way (which I imagine was the furthest thing from SB’s mind) to the following famous exchange between Hamlet and Ophelia in 3.1 of Hamlet. Let me set the stage.

They’re watching the short dumb show Hamlet has arranged as a prelude to his impromptu staging of a scene from The Murder of Gonzago for Claudius and his courtiers. Hamlet’s purpose, of course, is to catch Claudius’s guilty conscience and provide to Hamlet the evidence he so desperately seeks, to prove that the Ghost told the truth, i.e., that Claudius murdered his elder brother for his crown and his wife:

HAMLET Lady, shall I lie in your lap?  Lying down at OPHELIA's feet
OPHELIA No, my lord.  HAMLET I mean, my head upon your lap?
OPHELIA Ay, my lord.  HAMLET Do you think I meant COUNTRY MATTERS?
OPHELIA I think NOTHING, my lord. HAMLET That's a fair thought to lie between maids' legs.
OPHELIA What is, my lord?  HAMLET  NOTHING.
OPHELIA You are merry, my lord.  HAMLET Who, I?
OPHELIA Ay, my lord.
HAMLET  O God, your only jig-maker. What should a man do but be merry? for, look you, how cheerfully my mother looks, and my father died within these two hours.
OPHELIA  Nay, 'tis twice two months, my lord.

Most Shakespeare scholars and lovers are well aware that “country matters” is Hamlet’s very dirty pun, which he then cleverly repeats via a different dirty word, when he refers to “nothing”. However, what no Austen scholar or lover other than myself has realized, was that JA must’ve had a great laugh upping the ante on Hamlet’s dirty puns (as well as Maria’s forgery of a fake letter from Olivia to Malvolio in Twelfth Night, which leads the clueless steward to exclaim “By my life, this is my lady's hand these be her very C's, her U's and her T's and thus makes she her great P's and then the equally clueless Sir Andrew replies: “Her C's, her U's and ("N") her T's: why that?”) when Austen wrote the following scene set in the Netherfield salon early in P&P, a debate about the relative merits of country vs. city life:

“THE COUNTRY,” said Darcy, “can in general supply but a few subjects for such a study. IN A COUNTRY neighbourhood YOU MOVE IN A VERY CONFINED and unvarying society.”
“But people themselves alter so much, that there is something new to be observed in them for ever.”
“Yes, indeed,” cried Mrs. Bennet, offended by his manner of mentioning a COUNTRY neighbourhood. “I assure you there is quite as much of that going on IN THE COUNTRY as in town.”
Everybody was surprised, and Darcy, after looking at her for a moment, turned silently away. Mrs. Bennet, who fancied she had gained a complete victory over him, continued her triumph.
“I cannot see that London has any great advantage over the COUNTRY, for my part, except the shops and public places. The COUNTRY is a vast deal pleasanter, is it not, Mr. Bingley?”
“When I am in the COUNTRY,” he replied, “I never wish to leave it; and when I am in town it is pretty much the same. They have each their advantages, and I can be equally happy in either.”
“Aye—that is because you have the right DISPOSITION. But that gentleman,” looking at Darcy, “seemed to think the COUNTRY was NOTHING at all.”
“Indeed, Mamma, you are mistaken,” said Elizabeth, blushing for her mother. “You quite mistook Mr. Darcy. He only meant that there was not such a variety of people to be met with IN THE COUNTRY as in the town, which you must acknowledge to be true.”
“Certainly, my dear, nobody said there were; but as to not meeting with many people in this neighbour hood, I believe there are few neighbourhoods larger. I know we dine with four-and-twenty families.”
Nothing but concern for Elizabeth could enable Bingley to keep his countenance. His sister was less delicate, and directed her eyes towards Mr. Darcy with a very expressive smile….”

The entire passage is an elegant example of theme and variation, as Austen dances around the edges of Shakespeare’s dirty pun in several ingenious ways. But the piece de resistance is Mrs. Bennet’s barb hurled at Darcy: “But that gentleman seemed to think the COUNTRY was NOTHING at all.” By this single line of dialog, Jane Austen reveals to the knowing reader that she recognized that Hamlet did think that the “country” was “nothing” –i.e., ‘country’ and ‘nothing’ are both dirty puns referring to the identical female body part as Samantha Bee’s invective hurled at Ivanka Trump!

Although I appear to be the first Austen scholar to make this connection explicitly, there are three earlier Austen scholars who got close, but did not quite land the plane, who deserve mention:

First, in “Jane Austen’s Drawing Room” by Marvin Mudrick (1975), he quotes the above passage from P&P, and then observes:
“Everybody in this allegory of love, from Ungovernable Delicacy to Scrupulous Correction, knows that winning is everything; but only those who win know how many different ways there are to lose…. Foolish, touchy Mrs. Bennet, still fascinated by country matters, knows very well what the drawing-room game is, and is indecorous enough to flaunt (if not actually name) what she knows….”

Then, Darryl Jones in his 2004 book,  Jane Austen, citing Jill Heydt-Stevenson’s influential 1999 claim for sexual content in Austen’s writing, wrote the following about sexual puns in Mansfield Park:
“One of the reasons Mary constitutes such a danger within the because of her tendency verbally to emasculate or queer the men around her. [He quotes Mary’s ‘rears and vices’ pun, then] This remark resonates with William Price’s complaint that due to his lowly status in the navy, he is unable to attract women: ‘One might as well be nothing as a midshipman. One IS nothing, indeed…..they will hardly speak to me, because Lucy is courted by a lieutenant.’ Jill Heydt-Stevenson argues that William’s description of himself as ‘nothing’ has as its intertext Hamlet’s famous example of bawdry. ‘The emphasis on nothing,’ Heydt-Stevenson writes, ‘a term with sexual connotations of women’s lack, suggests that Price sees himself transformed into a portionless woman.’….”

I hope you begin to see the progression, how Austen keeps checking all the boxes from Hamlet’s vexed, tragic courtship of Ophelia, in P&P. One might begin to wonder whether this might suggest (Angels and ministers defend us!) that the veneer of the happy ending of P&P might conceal some tragic undertones?

CLUE #19: “The hero also makes a risqué bon mot about the heroine putting on a sexual show for a group.”

In that same scene in Hamlet as I just discussed in Clue #18, after watching the dumb show, we read:

OPHELIA  What means this, my lord?  HAMLET  Marry, this is miching mallecho; it means mischief.
OPHELIA  Belike this show imports the argument of the play.  Enter Prologue
HAMLET  We shall know by this fellow: the players cannot keep counsel; they'll tell all.
OPHELIA  Will he tell us what this show meant? HAMLET  Ay, or any SHOW that you'll SHOW him: be not you ashamed to SHOW, he'll not shame to tell you what it means.
OPHELIA  You are naught, you are naught: I'll mark the play.

Close readers have noted that Hamlet sexually puns again, this time taking Ophelia’s innocent query about the meaning of the dumb show, and turning it into an R-rated jest about Ophelia putting on a sex show for him! In other words, he’s back on that same bitter track as urging Ophelia to get herself to a “nunnery” (slang for a brothel). This time, he’s broadly hinting that he sees Ophelia as having put on a show of romantic affection for him, impliedly comparing her to the queen in the dumb show, who drops her king for another man. Hamlet is jealous of Ophelia for (in his mind) jilting him, and he can’t restrain his anger—and so the dumb show is the “play” he has staged in order to catch Ophelia’s conscience!

Now let’s turn to Pride & Prejudice for Jane Austen’s virtuosic parallel. I begin by referring back to a post I wrote 5+ years ago, on the exact bicentennial of the 1813 publication of P&P:
“What Darcy REALLY means by “We neither of us perform to strangers” . In that post, at that time not having Hamlet in mind, I pointed to sexual puns from other Shakespeare plays (notably The Taming of the Shrew), as I claimed (and still claim today) that Eliza has inadvertently been leading Darcy on during the entire first half of P&P. How?

By repeatedly, cluelessly making, in multiple settings, including at the Rosings salon as she plays piano for Darcy, Lady Catherine et al, and suggestively speaks about what well-studied fingers can do on an “instrument”, she gives Darcy hints which, Austen invites us to plausibly infer, he interprets as a witty sexual come-on. In that 2013 post, I laid out a rich variety of textual evidence to show why Darcy is not just a clueless narcissist who believes all women will melt at a proposal from him; but he has reason to be so shocked when he declares his irrepressible desire for her. Think I’m exaggerating? Then pause here and quickly scan my 2013 post, and then return here, and continue reading along.

If you do, you’ll realize what I only realized as I was writing this post today: i.e., that everything I claim  about Austen working in P&P from the template of Hamlet’s bitter sexual innuendo directed at Ophelia, is like a missing piece I didn’t even know was missing, that fits perfectly into the overall puzzle of my 2013 argument. Just as Hamlet vents his anger onto poor Ophelia’s head, so too does Darcy, in his own Regency Era manner, do likewise to Eliza; and both men do this because they believe they’ve been repeatedly sexually tempted by, but then abruptly rejected by, a young woman of markedly lower status. Could there be any leitmotif that goes more to the heart of the story of P&P than that?

But I’m not done yet explaining Clue #19. Hamlet’s risqué joke about Ophelia putting on a sex show for him leads me straight to the risqué joke that Darcy makes about Elizabeth putting on a sexual show for him. What-- you don’t know to what I am referring? Well, recall first the scene Eliza is missing from, right after she arrives at Netherfield to visit Jane. The Bingleys discuss Elizabeth walking alone through the mud, and Caroline sneers “It seems to me to SHOW an abominable sort of conceited independence, a most COUNTRY-town indifference to decorum”, but her benefit-of-the-doubt-giving brother rebuts that, “It SHOWS an affection for her sister that is very pleasing.” .

And so, speaking of “shows” by Elizabeth, now read this later Netherfield salon scene through the lens of Hamlet’s crude joke about Ophelia putting on a sexual show for him:

“Miss Eliza Bennet, let me persuade you to follow my example, and take a turn about the room. I assure you it is very refreshing after sitting so long in one attitude.”
Elizabeth was surprised, but agreed to it immediately. Miss Bingley succeeded no less in the real object of her civility; Mr. Darcy looked up. He was as much awake to the novelty of attention in that quarter as Elizabeth herself could be, and unconsciously closed his book. He was directly invited to join their party, but he declined it, observing that he could imagine but two motives for their choosing to walk up and down the room together, with either of which motives his joining them would interfere. “What could he mean? She was dying to know what could be his meaning?”—and asked Elizabeth whether she could at all understand him?
“Not at all,” was her answer; “but depend upon it, he means to be severe on us, and our surest way of disappointing him will be to ask nothing about it.”
Miss Bingley, however, was incapable of disappointing Mr. Darcy in anything, and persevered therefore in requiring an explanation of his two motives.
“I have not the smallest objection to explaining them,” said he, as soon as she allowed him to speak. “You either choose this method of passing the evening because you are in each other's confidence, and have secret affairs to discuss, or because you are conscious that your figures appear to the greatest advantage in walking; if the first, I would be completely in your way, and if the second, I can admire you much better as I sit by the fire.”
“Oh! shocking!” cried Miss Bingley. “I never heard anything so abominable. How shall we punish him for such a speech?”
“Nothing so easy, if you have but the inclination,” said Elizabeth. “We can all plague and punish one another. Tease him—laugh at him. Intimate as you are, you must know how it is to be done.”

To state what may be obvious to most of you, Austen has wittily translated Hamlet’s “show” ribaldry into a somewhat less, yet still recognizable, clever sexual wink at Hamlet by Darcy about admiring Eliza’s and Caroline’s figures. He speaks as if he were seated in an audience at a beauty contest, as the two female rivals for his affections take a joint turn for his sexual pleasure. Or, as I say Darcy really sees it, Elizabeth performing for him, the man who has come to believe that she very much wishes to sexually perform for him—Darcy. And speaking of performance and love, that brings me to today’s third-to-last clue:

CLUE #20: “The hero is very focused on the poetry of love.”

Shakespeare gives us several romantic heroes who write love poetry, most notably Orlando in As You Like It, who leaves his poetry hanging in the Forest of Arden for his beloved Rosalind to find.  However, although many have probably never registered it, Hamlet writes love poetry to Ophelia as well, and one of his poems is read aloud by Polonius to Claudius and Gertrude as evidence of Hamlet’s lovesickness:

'DOUBT thou the stars are fire; DOUBT that the sun doth move; DOUBT truth to be a liar; But never DOUBT I love. 'O dear Ophelia, I am ill at these numbers; I have not art to reckon my groans: but that
I love thee best, O most best, believe it. Adieu. 'Thine evermore most dear lady, whilst this machine is to him, HAMLET.'

First, I’ve put all the references to “doubt” in all caps, because, as I noted in my explanation of Clue #5 in PART ONE, both Hamlet and P&P are stories in which the protagonist has profound doubts about the central crux of the story – Hamlet as to whether his uncle really killed his father, and Elizabeth as to whether Darcy is really a good man worthy of being loved by her.

But why do I describe Darcy as being “very focused on the poetry of love”? Well, those who’ve read some of my earlier posts about P&P may recall what I’ve written about the exchange in the Netherfield salon which occurs immediately before the “the country is nothing” confrontation between Mrs. Bennet and Mr. Darcy. Mrs Bennet boasts about Jane’s beauty, and then, as evidence thereof, tells of the unnamed suitor who once courted Jane, wrote some pretty verses about her, but then dropped her:

"…Lady Lucas herself has…envied me Jane's beauty. I do not like to boast of my own child, but to be sure, Jane—one does not often see anybody better looking. It is what everybody says. I do not trust my own partiality. When she was only fifteen, there was a man at my brother Gardiner's in town so much in love with her that my sister-in-law was sure he would make her an offer before we came away. But, however, he did not. Perhaps he thought her too young. However, he wrote some verses on her, and very pretty they were."
"And so ended his affection," said Elizabeth impatiently. "There has been many a one, I fancy, overcome in the same way. I wonder who first discovered the efficacy of poetry in driving away love!"
"I have been used to consider poetry as the food of love," said Darcy.
"Of a fine, stout, healthy love it may. Everything nourishes what is strong already. But if it be only a slight, thin sort of inclination, I am convinced that one good sonnet will starve it entirely away."
Darcy only smiled…”

I’ve previously (and controversially) argued that, unknown to Eliza, Darcy was the man who courted Jane 8 years earlier, and that’s why Darcy leaps to that unnamed suitor’s defense, and that’s why he smiles—because it was himself! But even putting that claim aside, it has long been recognized even by mainstream Austen scholars that Darcy’s bon mot about poetry being “the food of love” constitutes Darcy’s allusion to the famous first line of Duke Orsino’s speech at the very beginning of Twelfth Night:
“If music be THE FOOD OF LOVE, play on”. And I was the first to note that Elizabeth’s droll reply about poetry as a ‘murderer’ of a slight, thin love derives from the next lines of that very same speech by Duke Orsino!:  “Give me excess of it, that, surfeiting, The appetite may sicken, and so die.

But now I can add to my earlier understanding further meaning: that Darcy’s defense of poetry as the food of love coincides with what I’ve repeatedly shown, above, to be Darcy’s  channeling of Hamlet’s focus on Ophelia. And, in many ways, Jane B. resembles the submissive, careful Ophelia of the first half of Hamlet, whereas Eliza resembles the witty Ophelia of the latter half, who utters witty, riddling poetry.

Which brings me, at long last, to the end of this post, with my explanation of the final clue in P&P relating to Hamlet and Ophelia:

CLUE #22: “The heroine receives a letter (the full text of which is presented in the work) from the hero, written to convince and explain to the heroine she has misjudged his worthy intentions.”

On the surface, Hamlet’s short, riddling love poem to Ophelia, which I quoted in Clue #21, above, and Darcy’s long letter written by him to Elizabeth in a fevered rush in the immediate aftermath of her rejection of his first proposal, might appear to be utterly unrelated to each other.  However, viewed through the common lens of both Hamlet and Darcy as lovers whose courtship has been peremptorily and inexplicably rejected at the very moment he believed himself certain of success, we can see each of their writings as having been written attempting to convince and explain to his lady love that she really has misjudged his worthy intentions, and that she need not doubt that he really loves and deserves her.

And there I will finally end this PART TWO, and promise a return in PART THREE within a few days, to explain the remaining clues (a potpourri of lesser hints, which would not be noteworthy, without the powerful evidence of intentional allusion to Hamlet in P&P that I’ve presented to date. They will be the icing on the cake, filling out the full picture of Austen’s masterfully hiding in plain sight, in her most famous and popular novel, a 38-part celebration of Shakespeare’s greatest and most popular play.

Cheers, ARNIE
@JaneAustenCode on Twitter

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