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Thanks! -- Arnie Perlstein, Portland, OR

Friday, November 19, 2010

Henry Tilney as Henry V and Hamlet REDUX

"Henry Tilney as a Hamlet figure , no - not for me. Ghosts and hauntings in the novel NA - maybe - Mrs. Tilney comes to mind for me."

Elissa, I have 15 pages of material about the Hamlet allusion in Northanger Abbey--when I bring you one or two examples, that does not mean I don't have 30 others! Henry is not the only Hamlet figure, Catherine is like Hamlet as well. And that is correct, Mrs. Tilney is the Ghost, and THAT is the connection between the Hamlet allusion and my claim that NA at its heart is about death in childbirth--that is the point, that there has been a "murder" at the Abbey, and that is the murder of the ordinary English wife by her husband! And Catherine and Henry, like Hamlet, are both detectives trying to catch the conscience of the king!!!!

I spoke about it for about 5 minutes at the AGM (as always, pressed for time, trying to get as much evidence in as possible), but you will have to wait for my Persuasions article for some of it, and for my book for the rest (actually, there won't even be room in the book for all of it). But trust me, I have a ton of great stuff that makes it clear beyond any reasonable doubt that Hamlet is a key allusive subtext in Northanger Abbey. And the thing is, when you see the whole argument, you will love it, too, because you have shown a hundred times over that you have both
a wide and deep knowledge of both Shakespeare and Austen, and also a keen appreciation for exactly this sort of metaphorical allusion that JA was the mistress of. You just need to let this one in, and then you will be wondering how you did not see it before yourself.

"Next -this is important - to clarify: Do you actually find evidence of Henry Tilney and Mrs. Allen having a personal, intimate relationship in Northanger Abbey?"

I was saying that if you read the rest of the novel with that idea in mind, you will find some interesting things. If you're curious, you will delve into that yourself. Otherwise, it will be in my book. You should try looking for this stuff, it's fun---I am addicted to it---Try it, you'll like it!

"Finally, that passage you quote from Hamlet expresses sentiments used many times by Shakespeare with small variations. I would certainly look both to The Tempest (Prospero) and to Richard II for similar lines."

Elissa, I already did all that searching before, so I know whereof I speak. My essential point is that there is an unmistakable allusion between that passage in Henry IV Part 2 and that passage in Hamlet, whichever was written first, I don't know. I feel pretty confident in telling you that there are no other passages in any other Shakespeare play which are anywhere in the ballpark as close in language and meaning as those two passages, which are "twins". This is not the common turn of
poetic phrase that you think it is--and when it appears in The TELLTALE Heart, it means that Poe knew what he was doing.

I've done my homework, that is why this project has taken me so long, I do check everything out to the end, so I don't often miss important stuff like that.

Cheers, ARNIE

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