Wednesday, August 19, 2009

What's in a name? Understanding the title, 'Nine Coaches Waiting'

I was in the middle of the book when out of no where I thought, "I still don't understand why this book is titled Nine Coaches Waiting!!!" (Although, on Page 8 of the book is does attemp to explain.) It was quite frustrating to me that it didn't make sense and so began my 'hunt' to find out any tid bits of information I could on why Mary Stewart titled her book what she did. So, in case any of you were also bewildered as to the title, here is all the information I was able to scrape up after a long 2 HOUR search! (There wasn't much info. but I did manage to get what I needed I think!)

The title, Nine Coaches Waiting, is a quote from a Renaissance play by Cyril Tourneur called "The Revenger's Tragedy." In the play, the coaches are a symbol for the tempting offer of life at the palace extended to a poor girl, and in Nine Coaches Waiting each "coach" is represented by a ride in a car. The title refers to The Revenger's Tragedy, in which a poor girl is seduced by a rich man's servant who promises her unbelievable and absurd wealth - not just one coach waiting to transport her, but nine. Linda is of course a poor woman overawed by the splendours of a noble estate, but the connections are fairly sparse. Stewart uses the quotation in a structural way, dividing the novel into "coaches" rather than parts, each having a journey as a central aspect. Below is the excerpt from The Revenger's Tragedy where the quote was taken...

VINDICI:Oh, think upon the pleasure of the palace: Secured ease and state, the stirring meats, Ready to move out of the dishes, That e'en now quicken when they're eaten, Banquets outdoor by torch-light, musics, sports, Bare-headed vassals that had ne'er the fortune To keep on their own hats (hats were removed as a sign of respect) but let horns were 'em, Nine coaches waiting. (Coaches were popular places for love-making)Hurry, hurry, hurry!
CASTIZA: Ay, to the devil.
VINDICI: [Aside] Ay, to the devil!--To th' duke, by my faith.

Castiza is the only one worrying seriously about the Devil. The rest have their eyes on the court and its pleasures. The Revenger’s Tragedy is disturbing because it reveals an unsettling truth about the true nature of world. It shows us a society for which Christianity provides a convenient frame of reference to remind themselves and us of good and evil, sin and divine punishment, heaven and hell, but it is in truth, a society that pays only lip-service to such concepts and is in love with the pursuit of wealth, pleasure and power to such an extent that in practice Christian teaching and morality are ignored.

In Nine Coaches Waiting when Miss Martin first meets Leon de Valmy she has the thought,

"Then I told myself sharply not to be a fool. This was the result of Daddy's intriguing build-up and my own damned romantic imagination. Just because the man looked like Milton's ruined archangel and chose to appear in the hall like the Demon King through a trap door, it didn't necessarily mean that I had to smell sulphur."

Through out the book Miss Martin continues to compare Leon de Valmy to the 'Demon King' which I believe is in parallel with the plot to The Revenger's interesting! Leon represents the pursuit of wealth, pleasure, power and immorality! He is indeed the Demon King!

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