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Something rich and strange...

Literary Allusions in Seachange
(last updated 19 May 2001)

Definitions of "SeaChange"
"Full fathom five"
"suffer a sea-change"
"something rich and strange"
"the fellowship of the suit"
"stormy weather"
"accidental activist"
"love me or leave me"
"perchance to dream"
"vaya con dios"
Pushkin poem
Polly Vaugh
Marx: Opium for the masses
House that Jack Built
Manna from Heaven
Buddhism, Tibet, Feudalism etc
India, Dowry Disputes and Bride Burnings
Kama Sutra
Great Expectations
Angela's Ashes
Love in the time of Cholera
Rime of the Ancient Mariner

The Macquarie Dictionary
sea change
/'see chaynj/ noun 1. a complete or radical transformation: *In the meantime Scotty was undergoing something of a sea change. --JAMES ALDRIDGE, 1973. 2. a change brought about by the sea.

Coastal Engineering Terms -includes definitions (15KB, (Coastal Engineering Research Center)
SEA CHANGE. (1) A change wrought by the sea. (2) A marked transformation.

Main Entry: sea change
Function: noun
Date: 1610
1 archaic : a change brought about by the sea
2 : a marked change : TRANSFORMATION

The Tempest

Setting: The island. Before PROSPERO'S cell.

FERDINAND Where should this music be? i' the air or the earth?
It sounds no more: and sure, it waits upon
Some god o' the island. Sitting on a bank,
Weeping again the king my father's wreck,
This music crept by me upon the waters,
Allaying both their fury and my passion
With its sweet air: thence I have follow'd it,
Or it hath drawn me rather. But 'tis gone.
No, it begins again.

[ARIEL sings]

Full fathom five thy father lies;
Of his bones are coral made;
Those are pearls that were his eyes:
Nothing of him that doth fade
But doth suffer a sea-change
Into something rich and strange.
Sea-nymphs hourly ring his knell

Note: Pursuant to The Tempest, Lyn has pointed out to me that Miranda's name may be inspired by "Miranda" the daughter of Prospero.

The Fellowship of the Ring

This is probably a reference to J.R.R. Tolkien's novel "The Fellowship of the Ring" being the first section of his very epic novel the Lord of the Rings. The others in the Lord of the Rings book are The Two Towers and The Return of the King. While not part of The Lord of the Rings, The Hobbit is also a story of Middle-Earth and the one that bored me to tears and initially dissuaded me from reading the set. I have actually just read the LOTR set and am now one of those people who think that the novel is fantastic.

Stormy Weather

This sweet and sexy jazz standard is all about losing love. You can read the lyrics here.

Accidental Tourist

This title may be referring to the book by Anne Tyler known as "The Accidental Tourist" which Lawrence Kasdan then made into a movie of the same name starring William Hurt as Macon the depressed travel writer, Kathleen Turner as Sarah and Geena Davis as Muri.

Love me or leave me

This is a great old jazz/swing standard written by Walter Donaldson and Gus Kahn. The lyrics are reproduced here. Ella Fitzgerald does a fantastic version.


Setting: A room in the castle.
Speakers: HAMLET

HAMLET To be, or not to be: that is the question:
Whether 'tis nobler in the mind to suffer
The slings and arrows of outrageous fortune,
Or to take arms against a sea of troubles,
And by opposing end them? To die: to sleep;
No more; and by a sleep to say we end
The heart-ache and the thousand natural shocks
That flesh is heir to, 'tis a consummation
Devoutly to be wish'd. To die, to sleep;
To sleep: perchance to dream: ay, there's the rub;
For in that sleep of death what dreams may come
When we have shuffled off this mortal coil,
Must give us pause: there's the respect
That makes calamity of so long life;
For who would bear the whips and scorns of time,
The oppressor's wrong, the proud man's contumely,
The pangs of despised love, the law's delay,
The insolence of office and the spurns
That patient merit of the unworthy takes,
When he himself might his quietus make
With a bare bodkin? who would fardels bear,
To grunt and sweat under a weary life,
But that the dread of something after death,
The undiscover'd country from whose bourn
No traveller returns, puzzles the will
And makes us rather bear those ills we have
Than fly to others that we know not of?
Thus conscience does make cowards of us all;
And thus the native hue of resolution
Is sicklied o'er with the pale cast of thought,
And enterprises of great pith and moment
With this regard their currents turn awry,
And lose the name of action.--Soft you now!
The fair Ophelia! Nymph, in thy orisons
Be all my sins remember'd.

Vaya Con Dios

This is a Spanish blessing which means "Go with God" and is used as a farewell blessing.

Alexander Pushkin

In "Broken Hearts and Crustaceans", Max quotes from the Russian poet Alexander Pushkin in the courtroom. You can read different versions of the poem here.

Polly Vaughan / Polly Von

The weird Irish ditty that Max sings during "Head for Water" is Polly Vaughn / Polly Von. It's a somewhat gruesome song about love, death, urder and all that sort of stuff. It has been recorded by Frankie Armstrong with a variant by Harry Cox, a group called Chelsea sing a version called "Polly Von" and Norman Kennedy sings a version called "Molly Bawn". You can read variations here.

Marx: Opium of the Masses

In "The House that Jack Built", Paula tells Max: "What's a little opium for the masses?"

Karl Marx (1818 - 1883) wrote the introduction to Contribution to the Critique of Hegel's Philosophy of Law at the end of 1843-January 1844. It was published in the DeutschFranzösische Jahrbücher, 1844 and it contained one of his most famous quotes:

"Religion is the opiate of the masses."/ "Religion is the opium of the masses."

I don't intend to go into a huge dissertation about my own theories on religion and atheism, but the spirit is basically that religion is a social construct designed to keep the masses happy. In its own way, it is as harmful as opium.

Links on the web:
Karl Max on Religion - Religious Atheism

The Marx/Engels Internet Archive - this is very good
Karl Marx Links

House that Jack Built

The House that Jack Built is a well-known children's nursery rhyme. You can read the full rhyme here. It has also been performed as a song by Aretha Franklin. Weirdly enough, Metallica has a song called the House that Jack Built which you can read here. It is from their "Load" album which was released in June 1996.

Manna from Heaven

Basically, it's the bread that fell from the sky for the starving Israelites. According to Exodus 16, "it was like coriander seed, white; and the taste of it was like wafers made with honey". Sounds quite yummy. *grin*

You can read more about "manna from heaven" here, which discusses its biblical context and also provides some dictionary definition.

Buddhism, Feudalism, Tibet etc

Controversial topics. I did have a big spiel here before discussing slavery and feudalism in Tibet, but I've decided that I'll just set out some links below.

It's hard to find sites that stick to purely historical reporting and don't incline themselves one way or the other. You'll just have to make up your own opinion. I'm inclined to side with Max Connors, myself.

I think Buddhism is groovy as a religion, but I think politics sucks. OK, now for the links:

Tibet Links:
The History of Tibet (non-political)
Free Tibet Now!
China Internet Information Centre
Feudal Serf System in Tibet
Free Tibet
China Tibet
Australian Tibet Council
Free Tibet []

Buddhism Links (these are all non-political):
Tibetan Buddhism.
Yahoo! Buddhism Links
Introduction to Buddhism

India, Dowry disputes, and bride burnings

According to the CNN article 'Bride Burning' alive and well in India, every two hours a woman in India is killed over a dowry -- and dozens of others are harassed or beaten.

The article says that between 1987 and 1991 the number of dowry deaths skyrocketed by 170 percent. Young women throughout India are still being harassed for dowries, and an estimated 5,000 a year murdered. The dowry system is an ancient custom and its brutality has been exacerbated by a twentieth century greed when families demand consumer goods

"Bride burnings" occur in India where young women whose husbands and in-laws have set them on fire in disputes over dowries. Apparently, burning is common because in-laws can then claim it was a cooking accident.

Dowries are as old as India, but in recent years the stakes have risen. The bride's family is expected to hand over cash and gifts such as televisions, cars and refrigerators. It's hard not to be a moral objectivist when confronted with such a situation.

Other links of interest:

U.S. Department of State India Country Report on Human Rights Practices for 1997 Released by the Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor, January 30, 1998.

The Material Basis for Women's Liberation

Kama Sutra

The Kama Sutra of Vatsyayana is a work of ancient Indian erotica that was written about 1500 years. It is basically a technical guide / scholarly treatise to sexual enjoyment and other sensual pleasures. As well s being a precursor to the modern day "sex manual", it also contains many historical and anthropological insights into the sexual mores and practices of ancient India.

You can read the Classic translation of 1883 by Sir Richard F. Burton (1821 - 1890) the famous British explorer, linguist, and anthropologist at You don't know how difficult it was to find this version - try searching for Kama Sutra on the web and you end up with heaps of porn 'n crap.

I haven't read it myself, but use your commonsense - it's sexually explicit so don't read it if you're easily offended or if you're under-aged. There are links to places you can download it at:

Great Expectations

Great Expectations is a novel written by the English novelist Charles Dickens (1812 - 1870).  The complete text of Great Expectations is available on-line at Biblomania. You can also buy a copy from amazon.

Although Our Mutual Friend is my favourite Dickens' novel, Great Expectations ranks up there along-side A Tale of Two Cities, Martin Chuzzlewit, Oliver Twist and A Christmas Carol.

The main character is Pip, whose life is forever changed by his dealings with the peculiar Miss Havisham and the psychologically twisted Estella. There's a lot more to the book of course, but I don't have the time to give a synopsis right now.

For more on Charles Dickens:
Yahoo! Charles Dickens Links

Online Project created by Canisius High School - contains a synopsis, discussion of themes etc.


The term "Parapsychology" was used in the episode "Not such Great Expectations" quite a lot.

Parapyschology is the scientific and scholarly study of certain unusual events associated with human experience. These experiences are sometimes called "psychic".

Parapsychologists study Telepathy, Precognition, Clairvoyance, ESP (Extra-sensory perception), Psychokinesis (also called PK), Bio-PK, NDE (Near death experience), OBE (Out-of-body experience), Reincarnation, Haunting, Poltergeist and Psi.

For some links try:
Yahoo! Links for Parapsychology
The Consciousness Research Laboratory's FAQ
Web Directory of Parapsychology Sources on the Internet

Marco Polo

Max and Laura play a game called Marco Polo in "Playing with fire". Marco Polo (1254-1324) was a famous Venetian explorer who is said to have travelled to China.

When he was seventeen, he went to China with his father (Nicolo Polo), a merchant and his uncle. According to his story, Marco Polo served as a government official in China and his father and uncle served as military advisers to Kublai Khan, the emperor of China.

In 1298, Marco Polo was the captain of a Venetian galley that participated in a battle between the fleets of
Venice and Genoa. He was captured by the Genoese and while in jail, disctating to a fellow prisoner what he
saw and heard while he traveled.

"The Travels of Marco Polo" was the basis of the first accurate maps of Asia. On his death bed in 1324, a 70 year old Marco Polo apparently said: "I didn't tell half of what I saw, because no one would have believed me."

You can see an online slideshow called "Marco Polo: His travels and their effects on the world".

You can read Marco Polo's account of the tartars from the Mediaeval Sourcebook.

While the Chinese have always accepted that Marco Polo did indeed travel to China, there are those historians who claim that Marco Polo never went to China.

You can read an article from USA today regarding the book Did Marco Polo Go to China? by a British librarian named Frances Wood who suggests that Marco Polo never made it to China. It's very sobering to think that Marco Polo may have made it all up or plagiarised it, but Wood points out that Marco Polo never referred to the Great Wall, to Chinese tea-drinking ceremonies or to the practice of binding girls' feet to keep them small.

I'd prefer to believe that Marco Polo did make it to China. *grin*

Angela's Ashes

In "Playing with fire", I think that Laura was reading Angela's Ashes an autobiographical book written by the American-Irish writer Frank McCourt based on his early childhood and the life of his mother Angela. It tells of McCourt's family in 1930s Brooklyn who return to Ireland after living for years in poverty.

Like Wild Swans, Satanic Verses, Memoirs of a Geisha or Shipping News, Angela's Ashes has became the "it" book that everybody has to have read. It won the National Book Critics Circle Award, the Los Angeles Times Book Award and the Pulitzer Prize.

Subsequent to the huge success of Angela's Ashes, he has since written a sequel called 'Tis which recounts McCourt's life in New York.

A movie is also in the works, directed by Alan Parker and starring Emily Watson and Robert Carlysle.

When I was in Dublin recently, I saw a documentary on McCourt. Apparently the people of Limerick are very snotty with McCourt for painting such an unappealing picture of their hometown.

For my own part, I'm a bit appalled that he would humiliate his mother by writing about her when she only died recently - but I won't go into that debate here. Debating topics like art, literature, history, exploitation, respect for the dead and invasion of privacy would take up a huge amount of time and energy.

Links to Frank McCourt resources
Summary and reviews of Angela's Ashes and 'Tis
Simon Says: Angela Ashes
The Club of Angela's Ashes link for Angela's Ashes link for 'Tis

Love in the Time of Cholera by Gabriel Garcia Marquez

This is a famous book set from the end of the 19th century into the first decades of the 20th century. The locale is an unnamed Caribbean seaport resembling Cartagena. To read a summary of the novel, visit the summary at New York University.

You can read reviews here:
Review by Robert Couteau
Review by Erin Sullivan
Review by Jen Andrew

You can buy the book at amazon.

Rime of the Ancient Mariner
A very, very long but famous poem written by Samuel Taylor Coleridge. You can read it here.


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