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That's Music to My Ears: Music in Austen and Shakespeare Works

Austen and Shakespeare both enjoy playing around with musical references in their literary works. Read on to view a list of music-related passages in “Mansfield Park,” “All’s Well That Ends Well” and “King Lear” that might ring a bell:


"Mansfield Park"

"The harp arrived, and rather added to her beauty, wit, and good-humour; for she played with the greatest obligingness, with an expression and taste which were peculiarly becoming, and there was something clever to be said at the close of every air." Chapter 7


"The evening passed with external smoothness, though almost every mind was ruffled; and the music which Sir Thomas called for from his daughters helped to conceal the want of real harmony." Chapter 20


Painting of a woman in a white gown with a harp
"Lady with a Harp: Eliza Ridgely," by Thomas Sully (1818). (Courtesy of the National Gallery of Art, Washington)
"All's Well That Ends Well"

"Why, he will look upon his boot and sing; mend the ruff and sing; ask questions and sing; pick his teeth and sing. I know a man that had this trick of melancholy sold a goodly manor for his song." The Fool, Act 3, Scene 2


"Every night he comes with musics of all sorts and songs composed to her unworthiness." The Widow, Act 3, Scene 7


"King Lear"

"Not so young, sir, to love a woman for singing, nor so old to dote on her for any thing: I have years on my back forty eight." Kent, Act 1, Scene 4





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