F&H and Austen

Melissa Proffitt Melissa at Proffitt.com
Tue Jan 14 19:02:32 EST 2003

On Tue, 14 Jan 2003 12:35:05 -0000, Charles Butler wrote:

>In all the examples so far (I think) the man has been older, yes? (Having
>seen the Zeferelli (sp?) version while at school, I will always think of
>Romeo as around 18, and definitely the elder of the two - though I may well
>be wrong, because I admit I was having a hard time taking my eyes off Olivia

The interpretations we were always given, in reading and performing the
show, was that Romeo was about seven years older.  But in a stage
performance I saw once, the actress playing Juliet was quite a bit older
than the actor playing Romeo.  I've been trying to remember how that came
across; I think they ended up emphasizing the star-crossed lovers theme
rather than the age-difference thing.

>Have you noticed that when DWJ occasionally shows women with much younger
>men (eg.Laurel and the Witch in Howl) the rel'p is definitely shown to be
>power-based and manipulative. No good can come of such a thing, at least in
>DWJ - or are there counterexamples?

One counter-example, in which the woman is about fifteen years older than
the man, is in _Wheel of the Infinite_ with the forty-something Maskelle
falling hard for Mr. Hunky himself, Rian the "barbarian" swordsman.  What
intrigued me here is that Maskelle starts out with comments like "boy, I
wish I were ten years younger" and thinking of him as very young, but over
the course of the story what makes them equals is not their ages, but their
respective abilities.  And, of course, he made the first move, so he
obviously didn't think of *her* as too old.

I think that when you have an older woman and a younger man in a
manipulative relationship, a subtext is that the woman, being mature and
having gained power on her own terms, doesn't need a man for anything other
than the obvious.  He's like a lap dog that's interchangeable with all the
other lap dogs.  Clearly all the other older women were married young and
presumably have husbands already.  :)

Melissa Proffitt

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