A few noteworthy romances include several of these categories and offer such varied uses of Shakespeare that the novels themselves become interpretive revisions of the plays they invoke. For example, The Lady Who Hated Shakespeare not only provides the chronic Shakespeare-quoting father but also uses Shakespeare even more thoroughly as the obstacle to romantic union since what initially disqualifies Miles in Cordelia's eyes is his tendency to quote Shakespeare to her. Carroll's novel also explicitly acknowledges the historical impulse to revise Shakespeare in the amateur Othello staged at the end of the novel. Delia steps in as Desdemona, restoring the radically bowdlerized text because she recalls her father's endless reading. As she apparently opposes revision of the play, she gets caught in the murderous plot against the young woman whom she understudies. Carroll's use of Othello, like Balogh's, acknowledges the romantic obstacle in that play, murderous, violent jealousy, but revises it since the attempt on her life is intended to secure the position of a valet masquerading as a nobleman.

Whereas Carroll's novel explores quite thoroughly the nineteenth-century blend of bardolatry and bard-revision as well as the establishment of Stratford as a Shakespearean mecca, Carla Kelly's Miss Grimsley's Oxford Career takes on academic Shakespeare. The internal cover blurb, with the bold title of "BEYOND THE BARD," offers Shakespeare in abundance:

All this learning is far more accurately portrayed in the novel; Miss Grimsley knows Dream well enough to realize that there are no disguises in it (except Bottom's); she doesn't read Measure until well into the book because it is unsuitable--and unavailable--for young women, however clever they might be. And her hero is far from "ravening." The publicity here, despite its inaccuracy in representing both the plays and the novel, pitches Shakespeare's plays as precisely the stuff of the romance novel, an appeal which does make sense given how readily Shakespearean references are adapted to the purposes of the romance.

Kelly's novel explores the limited educational possibilities available to young female scholars with some talent for explicating the writer of such compelling interest in the period. As a result, her novel is as imbued with Shakespeare as any of the actress novels but concentrates on the heroine's thwarted academic ambitions rather than any brush with the sexual dangers of the theater. Her insights into the relative powerlessness of women who function as tokens of exchange for the men relate to the end of Measure for Measure--Ellen does not instantly or easily take up her place beside the scholar/Lord who has manipulated her through disguising his rank and hiding as the poor scholar while he arranges for her work to be read, pursued and finally published. Her resistance almost reads as Kelly's working through of Isabella's dilemma when faced with the Duke's proposal--though Ellen has only saved her plagiarist brother's reputation and place at Oxford, her choice to humiliate herself for her brothers leads to a consideration of whether to marry Lord Chesney--despite his deception.

The most elaborate appropriation and reinterpretation I have discovered so far is Michelle Martin's reworking of the plot of Much Ado about Nothing in The Hampshire Hoyden. The novel combines almost all the features I have analyzed so far: the lovers, Kate and Theo, discover their compatibility through challenging each other with Shakespearean quotations; they attend Romeo and Juliet at the theater together though neither enjoys that particular play; and they even become actors as a play-within-the-novel is used to unveil and disgrace the pair who have plunged the plot into the slandered maid tale from Much Ado in remarkably faithful terms.

Reinterpretation enters most fully into the novel when Martin devotes considerable time to the reactions of Hero/Georgina and to the difficulties and horror of Claudio/William's realization that he has been tricked into ruining his life and the life of the woman he loves. Martin works through both William's and Georgina's dilemmas, ultimately staging their reunion not as the abrupt substitution at the wedding in Shakespeare's play but as the slower healing of serious wounds to trust. William in fact feels he can only beg that she not hate him for what he has done; Georgina's ultimate willingness to forgive him derives in part from Kate's explanation of the violence and shameful public quality of his denunciation: "Despite everything he was told and thought that he heard and witnessed, Sir William still loved you. He still loved the woman he believed had betrayed him, and he hated himself for it'"(222). Even with Kate's explanation and implicit interpretation of Claudio's violence in Much Ado, Georgina's forgiveness is hard-won and, ultimately, classic romance fare.

Two elements contribute to Martin's adoption and revision of Much Ado. First, after appropriating the slander and mistaken rejection and displaying them as well suited to romance novel conventions, Martin elaborates the reactions of both the slandered maid and the tricked lover, developing and explaining their rapprochement. Second, the revelation and comparable public shaming of the villains becomes an important part of the reinstatement of Georgina's reputation and her reunion with William. Martin draws in the play device from Hamlet. Suitably at the Prince's reception which everyone, including the slanderous Lady Priscilla and Lord Falkland, attends, Kate and Theo enact the conspiracy between those two as an entertainment which duly provokes Falkland to reveal his guilt. Both he and Lady Priscilla experience even worse social shame and ostracism than they imposed on Georgina. As in The Lady Who Hated Shakespeare and Miss Grimsley's Oxford Career, one Shakespearean reference or strategy answers another.


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