Loretta Chase/Incidental Shakespeare



In Loretta Chase's The Vagabond Viscount, Max, also known as Lord Rand, draws on Hamlet in order to urge his friend to propose:

"That's the secret, don't you see? Can't think about those things or you end up thinking and hesitating forever."

"Like Hamlet, you mean."

"Exactly. There he was meditating, waiting, and watching--and what does it get him? His sweetheart kills herself. Don't blame her. The chap wore out her patience."

Mr. Langdon considered this startling theory briefly, then objected to it on grounds that Hamlet was not first and foremost a love story. There was, after all, the matter of the father's murder to be avenged.

"On whose say-so?" Max argued. "A ghost. He had no business seeing ghosts. you want Miss Pelliston, my advice is to go and get her ..." (Chase 149-50)

Max's revision of the significance of Hamlet locates the interest of the play squarely in the love plot and offers a reinterpretation rather than the recasting of the revenger which occurs in Dodd's and James's work.

Chase's next related novel, The Devil's Delilah, follows the amours of the very character who resists dying for love of Catherine in The Vagabond Viscount by invoking As You Like It--"Men have died from time to time and worms have eaten them, but not for love." Compelled to climb the wall to Delilah Desmond's bedroom at the end of the novel, Jack Langdon first acknowledges the compulsion in Shakespearean terms, "'But soft! What light through yonder window breaks?'" he murmured, though he had sense enough to smile at his folly. "'It is the ease and Delilah is the sun. Arise fair sun and kill the envious moon --'" (261). Chase signals that his romantic visit will not go exactly as planned by capping this speech with "The light went out." After all, Juliet, though forceful of character, did not hold a pistol on Romeo and demand that he kiss her as planned.

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