I don't think that Laraine was necessarily expecting us to wait for her to start the GR topics, although I'm sure she'll have many interesting ones to put forth :-)
So, in keeping with this week's examination of Ophelia and her relatives, I thought I'd start with something I've actually been mulling over for a while. It's my belief that when an author makes direct reference to another work of literature, it is never an off hand remark, but in fact can add other layers and shades of meaning to the story.
In S&S, after Willoughby leaves abruptly for London, Mrs. Dashwood makes the remark that "We have never finished Hamlet, Marianne; our dear Willoughby went away before we could get through it." Now, out of all the works of literature that Willoughby might have been reading with them, I can't think that JA just pulled this one out of a hat for no reason.
I think that there are a number of similarities that can be drawn between Marianne and Ophelia and their situations.
I'm particularly struck by this conversation between Ophelia and her father in I, iii.
he hath very oft of late
Given private time to you; and you yourself
Have of your audience been most free and bounteous:
If it be so, as so 'tis put on me,
And that in way of caution, I must tell you,
You do not understand yourself so clearly
As it behoves my daughter and your honour.
What is between you? give me up the truth.
He hath, my lord, of late made many tenders
Of his affection to me.
Affection! pooh! you speak like a green girl,
Unsifted in such perilous circumstance.
Do you believe his tenders, as you call them?
I do not know, my lord, what I should think.
Marry, I'll teach you: think yourself a baby;
That you have ta'en these tenders for true pay,
Which are not sterling. Tender yourself more dearly;
Or--not to crack the wind of the poor phrase,
Running it thus--you'll tender me a fool.
My lord, he hath importuned me with love
In honourable fashion.
Ay, fashion you may call it; go to, go to.
And hath given countenance to his speech, my lord,
With almost all the holy vows of heaven.
Now, I think that Polonious is mostly a meddling old windbag, but on the other hand, maybe it would have been for the better for Marianne if someone had sat Marianne down and spoken plainly to her in this manner. Both Marianne and Ophelia are missing a parent, and it should most likely have been Mrs. Dashwood who had this talk with Marianne. In the end it fell to Elinor.
The above passage reminds me of this one in Chapter 29 of S&S
(Marianne)"No, he is not so unworthy as you believe him. He has broken no faith with me."
(Elinor) "But he told you that he loved you?"
"Yes -- no -- never absolutely. It was every day implied, but never professedly declared. Sometimes I thought it had
been -- but it never was."
"Yet you wrote to him?" --
"Yes -- could that be wrong after all that had passed? But I cannot talk."
And, skipping down a bit until after the letters...
"I felt myself," she added, "to be as solemnly engaged to him, as if the strictest legal covenant had bound us to each
"I can believe it," said Elinor; "but unfortunately, he did not feel the same."
"He did feel the same, Elinor -- for weeks and weeks he felt it. I know he did.
It is interesting, I find, that both Marianne and Ophelia were led to believe or allowed themselves to believe more than was actually ever declared to them.
And yet both Hamlet and Willoughby did claim to feel more for them then their callous treatment of these young girls made it appear. It is also interesting that for Hamlet this was expessed only after Ophelia was dead and for Willoughby (although he cannot use the word love) when he believes Marianne to be dying. It is also an interesting parallel that this is expressed not to the young lady herself (obviously), but instead to a concerned and protective sibling (Elinor and Laertes)
It also makes me wonder how much of these graveyard/deathbed declarations of 'love' or fondness on Willoughby's or Hamlet's parts were real and how much for show?
I have more to say on this, but this is already pretty long, so does anyone else have thoughts on this?