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Thursday, March 17

Queen Mab, Sense, Sensibility and Dreams

Queen Mab is the name of the beautiful mare that Willoughby wanted to give Marianne Dashwood.

The gift, as we know, was rejected (reluctantly by Marianne). For an unmarried girl to receive such a valuable gift from a guy who was not even her fiancée was totally inappropriate. And to make matters worse, the Dashwood women had not the means to keep a horse!

Willoughby, hearing of the refusal, consoles Marianne:
“But, Marianne, the horse is still yours, though you cannot use it now. I shall keep it only till you can claim it. When you leave Barton to form your own establishment in a more lasting home, Queen Mab shall receive you.”
Willoughby's speech is dubious. We do not know if at this moment he truly thought of marrying Marianne, or if he just wanted to comfort her with the possibility of marriage.

Despite that beautiful scene in Sense and Sensibility (2008) Marianne,
in the book, never comes to know the lovely Queen Mab.

In the end, the gift was nothing but a dream, and it almost became a nightmare. Queen Mab appears in various works of English literature, as the poem Queen Mab: A Philosophical Poem, by Percy Bysshe Shelley (1792-1822), and it is best known for the monologue of the character Mercutio in Romeo and Juliet, by Shakespeare. In the first act, scene four, Romeo discusses the veracity of the dreams with his friend Mercutio, who begins a long monologue where he mentions Queen Mab, the fairy midwife.

O, then, I see Queen Mab hath been with you.
She is the fairies’ midwife, and she comes
In shape no bigger than an agate-stone
On the fore-finger of an alderman,
Drawn with a team of little atomies
Athwart men’s noses as they lie asleep;
This is that very Mab
That plats the manes of horses in the night,
And bakes the elflocks in foul sluttish hairs,
Which once untangled, much misfortune bodes:
This is the hag, when maids lie on their backs,
That presses them and learns them first to bear,
Making them women of good carriage:
This is she—
Excerpt from Romeo and Juliet, Shakespeare, 1594 – Act I, Scen IV
Full text at Open Source Shakespeare

The best interpretation for that monologue I've found was the Franco Zeffirelli's version, (1968) by actor John McEnery.

First published in Lendo Jane Austen, as "">Queen Mab, razões, sentimentos e sonhos"

1 comment:

Elleoneiram said...

Thanks for reminding me of Queen Mab - I forgot the mare's name. And that interpretation of Mercutio is a highlight of an extremely inspired film.