Tuesday, June 20, 2023

A Little Macbeth with your Agatha Christie?

Christie, Agatha. The Pale Horse. New York: Harper, 2011.

The Pale Horse was published in 1961, a little late in Agatha Christie's career. It doesn't feature any of her major detectives, though Ariadne Oliver (the apple-loving mystery author) makes several appearances in it. But that doesn't make it a good read.

That's particularly the case when the characters start thinking about Macbeth. An alert student pointed the Macbeth in this play out to me. Shakespeare comes up frequently in Christie, but here we get a more extended musing on how the witches might best be portrayed. There are no spoilers here, so feel free to read this except:

I find that conversation decidedly interesting. There's a good discussion about what would be truly frightening in a portrayal of the witches.  Hermia (nice little Shakespearean name there, eh?) thinks that Macbeth is entreating the doctor to euthanize Lady Macbeth.  Poppy thinks perhaps Bacon wrote Shakespeare. Well, all right, that's not terribly interesting, but it serves as a nice bit of comic relief.

Then, nearer the end of the book, we get one more Macbeth reference:

The main connection to the plot of novel is that question of wanting to put someone out of the way (but not wanting to do it oneself). For Macbeth, Hermia thinks the doctor is being hired for the purpose. In the novel, Poppy gabbles some nonsense about getting it done with a pale horse.

Need something for your reading list this summer? Why not find out more by reading The Pale Horse?

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Unless otherwise indicated, quotations from Shakespeare's works are from the following edition:
Shakespeare, William. The Riverside Shakespeare. 2nd ed. Gen. ed. G. Blakemore Evans. Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1997.
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