OK, so one step keeps leading to another, every time i catch my breath.
I just recalled that Anielka made an interesting suggestion a while back
about Mary Queen of Scots being represented in Pride & Prejudice. I know
she's suggested it a few times publicly, here's the one I most easily
find, from 4 months ago:
"Try Antonia Fraser for a biog. if all else fails. Ms. Fraser's
rendition of Mary Q. of S. and the four Maries sounds a lot like
Elizabeth Bennet and her four sisters."
Anielka's interpretation is interesting, and I think it dovetails nicely
with my now finding, via the Jane Austen Code in Letter 81, that
Elizabeth Bennet is a representation of her _namesake_ Queen Elizabeth
I--who was also, of course Mary QOS's first cousin, once removed!
Here's what I come up with, on first impression, vis a vis the latter:
First and foremost, there is one obvious and significant parallel
between Queen Elizabeth and Elizabeth Bennet. A central issue during
much of Queen Elizabeth's reign revolved around that bunch of famous
powerful noblemen who wanted to marry her! Of course they wanted to, she
was Queen of England! So isn't it curious that three (count 'em, three)
eligible bachelors (Darcy, Wickham and Collins) all descend on Meryton
within a very short amount of time from every corner of southern
England, and all three of them have a go at marrying Elizabeth Bennet?
(And don't forget Colonel Fitzwilliam, who also happens to fall into
Lizzy's path during the novel) . And in the end of the novel, Elizabeth
becomes the "Queen" of Pemberley, which would do very nicely indeed, if
you think about it, as a representation of the grandeur, beauty and
glory of England itself! So, it seems that both the historical and the
fictional Elizabeth's were veritable man-magnets, but who however were
not too quick to say yes!
And next, think about Queen Elizabeth's father, Henry VIII of course,
who had six wives but very few surviving offspring---and only one of
them male--Edward VI-who survived only till 16--it sounds a lot like
Longbourn's entail problems. So if Longbourn is also a representation of
England itself, the worry would be the same--if the Queen did not marry
and conceive a male child to succeed her, who would become King upon her
death? Mrs. Bennet would have made a great advisor to Elizabeth, don't
you think? And by the way, any guesses as to what Mr. Bennet's Christian
name was? Might it have been......Henry?
Now, consider Henry VIII's first wife Catherine of Aragon who bore him
Mary. Mary, upon ascending the throne after Edward VI's death tried to
turn England back to Catholicism. Cranmer annulled Henry VIII's marriage
to Catherine. Of course one of the Bennet girls is named Mary, and
another is named Catherine. Hmm...
Then consider Henry's second wife Ann Boleyn/Bullen, who bore him
Elizabeth. Of course we have an Ann de Burgh in P&P, in addition to the
"heroine" of P&P, named Elizabeth.
And then Henry's third wife Jane Seymour who died in childbirth after
bearing Edward VI. Of course the eldest Bennet girl is named Jane, which
also suggests that Mrs. Bennet's Christian name was _also_ Jane, right?
Then we have the last three wives, Anne of Cleves and the two
Catherines, but nothing leaps out as a parallel to P&P in their lives.
And finally, no Lydia there anywhere among the Tudors----but then, as
Lydia Bennet would have been the first to announce to us all, they broke
the mold when she was made.
I finish with noting the following very interesting usages of the word
"kingdom" in P&P, including the one in the subject line of this message:
"I would not be so fastidious as you are," cried Mr. Bingley, "for a
kingdom! Upon my honour, I never met with so many pleasant girls in my
life as I have this evening; and there are several of them you see
That has the unmistakable scent of a clue, pointing to a "kingdom"
(Pemberley, Longbourn?) as to which a suitor for Lizzy's hand like Darcy
might be fastidious.
And of course we have not one but two hyperbolic references to "the
kingdom" of England courtesy of Mr. Collins:
"But of all the views which his garden, or which the country or kingdom
could boast, none were to be compared with the prospect of Rosings,
afforded by an opening in the trees that bordered the park nearly
opposite the front of his house. It was a handsome modern building, well
situated on rising ground."
"My dear Miss Elizabeth, I have the highest opinion in the world in your
excellent judgement in all matters within the scope of your
understanding; but permit me to say, that there must be a wide
difference between the established forms of ceremony amongst the laity,
and those which regulate the clergy; for, give me leave to observe that
I consider the clerical office as equal in point of dignity with the
highest rank in the kingdom—provided that a proper humility of behaviour
is at the same time maintained.
And I think I'll stop there.....
@JaneAustenCode on Twitter
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- Darcy's "We neither of us perform to strangers": a Radical New Interpretation
- The Hunger Games’s Veiled Allusion to Shakespeare’s Titus Andronicus
- August Wayne Booth in Once Upon A Time: Jane Austen Really IS Everywhere in 2012!
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- The secret codeword Shakespeare devilishly hid in plain sight in Romeo & Juliet that Shakespeare Uncovered DIDN’T uncover—but John Milton (and then I) did!
Wednesday, October 3, 2012
Queen Elizabeth I and Elizabeth Bennet: I would not be so fastidious as you are for a kingdom!
Posted by Arnie Perlstein at 2:17 PM
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