(& scroll down to read my literary sleuthing posts)
Thanks! -- Arnie Perlstein, Portland, OR

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Troilus and Cressida and Jane Austen

On the good advice of my son Henry, I made sure I went to at least one performance at the Globe Theatre as a groundling, standing right next to the stage. The play I saw was Troilus and Cressida, and it was a first rate performance.

I have read, closely, over 20 of Shakespeare's plays during the past couple of years, as part of my gaining a greater understanding of the allusive significance of Shakespeare in Austen's fiction (and of course, also enjoying the Shakespeare for its own merits as well). But T&C is one of his plays I had not previously read closely, I found it difficult to engage with in print, and thought seeing this performance would be an ideal way to "get" the play sufficiently to be able to then read it with much greater understanding.

Anyway....the reason I thought of posting about it here was remembering, as I watched, the one detail in the play that I had discovered a few years ago was a DEFINITE allusion by Jane Austen, that was not previously noted by any other critic, to the best of my knowledge.

It's the scene early in Act IV, "the morning after", when Troilus and Cressida are engaging in playful sexual banter, and the following exchange occurs:

Did not I tell you? Would he were knock'd i' the head!

Knocking within

Who's that at door? good uncle, go and see.
My lord, come you again into my chamber:
You smile and mock me, as if I meant naughtily.

Ha, ha!

Come, you are deceived, I think of no such thing

Do you see the allusion by Jane Austen? It's unmistakable, and very very clever, and it's also coded by character names. I think that is enough hints to point you to the right Austen character.


No comments: