I Shall Wear Midnight is, as Pratchett notes, an urban fantasy; the fourth in the series of Discworld novels that focus on the young witch in training, Tiffany Aching. It is the 38th in the Discworld series and was published in Britain on September 2, 2010. The title is based upon the popular poem "When I Am an Old Woman I Shall Wear Purple" by Jenny Joseph (the correct title for this poem is "Warning") but beyond the title there is no other to link the two works. The title is also a summary of Tiffany's beliefs and values in regards to her wearing colorful clothing throughout her career as a witch, when Boffo would expect her to wear black. The title line is referenced regularly in the series, as well as in Pratchett's The Art of Discworld. At the end of A Hat Full of Sky, when she is regarding the cloak that the hiver bought while possessing her Pratchett says, "When I'm old I shall wear midnight", she'd decided. "But for now she'd had enough of darkness."
Tiffany is working as the Chalk's only witch in a climate of growing suspicion and prejudice. When Amber Petty, is beaten so badly by her drunken father that she loses her child, Tiffany takes her away to the safety of the Nac Mac Feegles where Jeannie, the Kelda, cares for her and finds that she is a quick study in understanding Feegle. The villagers initially plan on teaching Mr. Petty a lesson (rough music) but he flees and, when he sneaks back he begins to spread rumours that Amber has been stolen, rather than saved, by Tiffany. When the local Baron (for whom Tiffany had been caring) dies of poor health, she is accused of murder by his thieving nurse which compounds the fear and suspicions that are circulating about witches. Tiffany travels to Ankh-Morpork with her Nac Mac Feegle cohorts to inform the Baron's heir, Roland, who happens to be in the city with his fiancée Letitia. On the way Tiffany is attacked by the Cunning Man, a frightening figure who has holes where his eyes should be and who is an evil influence on the way people think and act, dripping his poison into peoples's minds and making them hate and fear witches.
In the city she meets Mrs Proust, the proprietor of Boffo's joke shop, where many witches buy their stereotypical witch accoutrements. Tiffany sends the Nac Mac Feegles to find Roland and Letitia but as usual, they are distracted by a pub after accomplishing their task and destroy it. When Tiffany and Mrs Proust arrive on the scene they are arrested by Captain Carrot and Sergeant Angua, and (nominally) locked up - although it is mostly, in fact, for their protection as people start to resent witches and attack them.
When they are released the next day, the Nac Mac Feegles have restored the pub (now named the King's Neck instead of Head because they restored it back to front) to more than its former glory. In fact the publican is doing such a roaring business he doesn't want it 'fixed' any more and since there is no longer a crime, all are released. Tiffany meets Eskarina Smith (not seen since the events of the third Discworld novel, Equal Rites), who explains to her that one thousand years ago,the Cunning Man was an Omnian witch-finder, who had fallen in love with a witch. That witch, however, knew how evil the Cunning Man was. As she was about to be burned to death, she lured the Cunning Man into her arms (he believed they would flee together) and they were both consumed by the flames, ending his evilness for the time being. Unfortunately, the Cunning Man became a demonic spirit of pure hatred, able to corrupt other minds with suspicion and hate. Esk tells Tiffany that the Cunning Man is coming for her, drawn to Tiffany's power after she kissed the Wintersmith. Tiffany realizes that if she is unable to kill the Cunning Man, the other witches will have no choice but to kill her or else his evil ways will take her over and doom them all. Tiffany and the Feegles return to the Chalk, where they find the Baron's soldiers trying to dig up the Feegle mound, believing the rumours that she has stolen Amber and given her to the 'fairies'. She stops them, and goes to see Roland, who throws her in a dungeon (which she locks on the inside, and where she is brought bacon, eggs, and coffee in the morning). It soon becomes clear to her that the Cunning Man is responsible for the change in attitude of the people of the Chalk toward witches in general and Tiffany in particular. Tiffany begins to realize that her previous relationship with Roland wasn't love but really two people who were different from their peers being thrown together because they were different, not because they had anything in common themselves.
Tiffany leaves the dungeon via the chimney and goes to see Letitia, whom she discovers is an untrained but talented witch. They fly together to Letitia's home where she sees the Cunning Man twice more. As guests begin to arrive at the castle for the Baron's funeral and Roland and Letitia's wedding, the other witches start to arrive...so that if the Cunning Man takes over Tiffany's body, they can kill her. Mrs. Proust tells Tiffany that the Cunning Man has taken over the human body of a murderer and that he is one his way to meet her. The night before the wedding, Tiffany, Roland, Letitia and Preston (a castle guard whom Tiffany has befriended) meet at one of the fields that needs to be burned to clear it of stubble; Tiffany lures the Cunning Man chasing Roland, Letitia and herself until he is close enough and tired enough that, when Preston fires the field, they leap through the flames to safety while he is burned alive. In the aftermath, Tiffany insists that the Nac Mac Feegles be given their land, that the new Baron establish a school for the children to help banish ignorance, that Amber and any other village girls be given dowries so that they can improve their lot in life and that Preston be given the opportunity to become a doctor in Ankh-Morpork. The story then jumps forward a year where Tiffany is offered a beautiful black dress by Amber, which her husband (a tailor) has made. Preston, who is as smart as Tiffany, shows his love for her and Tiffany reciprocating it.
Ideas and Themes
Pratchett continues his exploration of the ideas around class and privilege from the previous novel, Unseen Academicals and which he expands further in the next novel Snuff where he looks at the division between the "upstairs" and the "downstairs" crowd - privilege and the sense of entitlement that goes with being born into the right circle vs being part of the hoi polloi. In Unseen Academicals, Pratchett used the analogy of the crab bucket, whereby any crab trying to escape the cooking pot, is dragged back down by his fellow crabs, much the way ordinary people will believe lies and innuendos about their fellows and discourage them from bettering themselves rather than see them escape the cooking pot and rise above their peers. In this novel, Pratchett uses the character of the Duchess to look at the idea of the accident of birth that places a person in a higher class when they are not deserving of that position and abuse it. The Duchess abuses her servants and her 'subjects' to the point where they live in fear of her and they become completely subservient to her. She believes that this kind of treatment is necessary to retain control and power over them. The Baron, on the other hand, has learned to rule with kindness and by being in tune with his subjects' needs. His subjects are truly saddened when he passes away. The twist and irony comes at the end of the novel, when it is revealed that the Baroness is really not high class at all but was a music hall dancer who married well so has no 'inherent right' to her position and snobbishness. She reforms, more out of fear that her secret will be revealed by Tiffany or Mrs. Proust, than out of a genuine remorse, clearly because she does not want her position of privilege jeopardized by her roots among the hoi polloi.
Tied in with this theme is another one of Pratchett's common themes, that of the outsider or the person who is 'different' being made a scapegoat for perceived problems in the world while ordinary people stand by and do nothing. Pratchett uses the Cunning Man to represent the way evil things are done by good people because they don't have the guts to stand up and say "That is wrong" but he sets the tone long before the appearance of the Cunning Man with the reference to the old lady and her cat who the villagers fear as a witch and her familiar and respectively freeze to death and are stoned by the villagers because they are 'outsiders'. Later, the guards begin to dig into the Feegles' mound to 'save Amber' because they believe the lies that a witch has stolen her - choosing to believe Amber's abusive father (who is ultimately 'one of them') over the witch, Tiffany, who they have known all their lives but is ultimately 'the outsider'. They imprison Tiffany because the new Baron and the Duchess order it - the person in power exerting control over the masses. The plea that "I was only following orders" has been the common cry during every single genocide and Holocaust in Roundworld and is playing out once again with the vilification of Muslims and attacks on them as well as in US president Trump's scapegoating and imprisoning of Mexican migrants (including little children) blaming them for stealing American jobs as the reason for America's decline. Ultimately, as the Nuremberg trials proved, "I was only following orders" is no defense. In this novel, Pratchett uses the backdrop of the vilification of witches through the ages as the means to convey his message.
The witch trials and witch finders of Roundworld are used extensively in the novel to illustrate the above themes. The role of witches in the middle ages and later, switched from being the wise old woman good with herbal remedies who could help in childbirth, death and illness to the evil incarnation and associate of the devil. As Tiffany, who with Miss Level, Nanny Ogg and other witches embodies the wise woman qualities, points out on page 67, the connundrum for ordinary people was that "everybody knew, in some mysterious way, that witches ran away with babies and blighted crops, and all the other nonsense. And at the same time, they would come running to the witch when they needed help." The question of whether the witch was burned at the stake came down to, was the need for a scapegoat larger than the need for medical assistance. During the period of religious and political unrest and again after the rise of medical doctors (men) the answer to that question clearly was the former. As Pratchett develops this theme, he slowly changes the way the villagers view Tiffany, shifting from her being the 'go to' person helping them with all their problems, to the children provoking Wentworth into defending his sister, to the family having trouble selling the cheese that Tiffany makes, even though it is the best, to people who have known her all her life believing the bad in her rather than giving her the benefit of the doubt when the Baron dies, to the coachman believing that Tiffany might turn him into something nasty to eventually her imprisonment in the dungeon. This is much the way rumour, hatred, racism and bigotry work in Roundworld as well.
Interwoven with these themes is the question Pratchett repeatedly asks in the novel and which was at the core of the Nuremburg trials. Is a person who appears to be a good person just following orders, really a good person or is there something inherently evil in them as well that makes them susceptible to the rumours, lies and innuendos of evil people like the Cunning Man. Over the course of the novel, the arguments that these people are just stupid, or afraid, or bow to authority are all rejected and found to be invalid excuses for their actions, just as they were rejected by the Nuremberg courts until finally Tiffany says to Preston (when he asks her if the Cunning Man could take him over), No, I don't think so...you have to be ... somebody with a touch of evil."
(Doubleday hardback pp 11-14) - The scouring fair and the Giant: This scene is based on the Cerne Giant which is carved in the chalk near Cerne Abbas in Dorset. Like Pratchett's giant he is a nude male figure with a prominent erection. He is 55 metres (180 ft) high, and wields a large club in its right hand. Like many other hill figures the Giant is outlined by shallow trenches cut in the turf and backfilled with chalk rubble which need regular cleaning and maintenance, hence the 'scouring fair'. The figure is listed as a scheduled monument of England and the site is owned by the National Trust. Apparently for many years postcards of the giant were the only 'pornographic' images that could legally be sent through HM Royal Mail. A fair similar to Pratchett's Discworld event occurs at Uffington where the White Horse is also (though less ribaldly) scoured, with all the usual entertainments, including Cheese Rolling and ducking for apples, though not apparently ducking for frogs. The White Horse plays a key role in other novels in the Tiffany Aching series.
(Doubleday hardback p 13) - "All those things that make people touch wood and never, ever walk under a black cat." Pratchett is deliberately mixing expressions here. The two expressions are to never walk under a ladder (which has a logical application to it) and never let a black cat cross your path (which has its basis in the fact that cat's were often the familiars of witches).
(Doubleday hardback p 13) The reference to "the things that you did around the changing of the seasons" reminds the reader of the events in the previous novel in the series, Wintersmith, in which Tiffany dances with the Wintersmith in the Dark Morris to mark the change in the season.
(Doubleday hardback p 14) - The ritual of jumping over a fire together to become married combines two Roundworld traditions. "Jumping the broomstick' was considered a marriage in some cultures and traditions and 'jumping the fire' is an Iranian purification ritual done at Chaharshanbe Suri celebrated on the eve of the last Wednesday before Nowruz (the Iranian New Year's day).
(Doubleday hardback p 15) Petulia Gristle is an expert in pig boring which is a takeoff on horsewhispering
Doubleday hardback p 15) Pratchett is being facetious when he says that fewer than half of the various diseases that Petulia treats are pig diseases because most are not diseases and none are specific to pigs. They are:
'blind heaves" - heaves are an airway obstruction problem in horses which Pratchet has combined with 'Blind staggers" a symptom of several unrelated animal diseases, in which the affected animal walks with an unsteady, staggering gait and seems to be blind.
"brass neck" - is a play on 'Brassnose College" at Oxford which Pratchett has used before.
"floating teeth" - is related to horses and is the description given to the appearances on imaging of teeth that appear to be floating as a result of alveolar bone destruction around their roots.
"scribbling eyeball" is probably a play on "swollen eyeball" and the artistic doodling.
"grunge" is likely a play on the disease "mange" which is a type of skin disease caused by parasitic mites combined with the musical genre "grunge" also known as the "Seattle Sound" which combined heavy metal and punk and was made famous in the 1980s by Nirvana, Pearl Jam and Soundgarten, among others.
"the smarts" plays on 'intelligence' and 'to smart' or 'hurt'.
"the twisting screws" is probably a combination of "screw worm diseases" in any mammalian animal species including humans and the metal fastener which has a twisting thread on it.
"swivelling" simply means 'pivoting' and sounds like it belongs in the movie "The Exorcist" with Linda Blair's neck rotations - appropriately witchy.
"gone knees" sounds like the kind of ailment those in need of a knee replacement would suffer from.
(Doubleday hardback p 29) - "Rough Music" is also known as Charivari (or shivaree or chivaree) or Skimmington (or skimmington ride in England and is a term for a folk custom in which a mock parade was staged through a community accompanied by a discordant mock serenade . The crowd aimed to make as much noise as possible by beating on pots and pans or anything that came to hand these parades are often referred to as rough music. Communities used "rough music" to express their disapproval of different types of violation of community norms. It may also be related to the Ran Tan, a Lincolnshire custom where the community would work themselves up to driving an offender out of the village, often including burning an effigy of them as a final warning to leave of their own volition before they were removed.
(Doubleday hardback p 36) - Tiffany's father calls her 'jiggit' which was Granny Aching's pet name for Tiffany, 'Jiggit' means the number 20 in the old Gaelic counting system based on 20 like the unit "score", which was used throughout the country from early times and is still used today in parts of Northumbria and Scotland for counting sheep and stitches in knitting. Tiffany was Sarah Aching's twentieth grandchild.
The "Cunning Man" is possibly based on the Roundworld historical figure Heinrich Kramer, a German Inquisitor, although there has been a long tradition of the phrase "Cunning folk" in parts of England and Wales. Certain Christian theologians and Church authorities believed that the cunning folk, being practitioners of "low magic", were in league with the Devil and as such were akin to the more overtly Satanic and malevolent witches. Partly due to this, laws were enacted across England, Scotland and Wales that often condemned cunning folk and their magical practices, but there was no widespread persecution of them akin to the Witch Hunt, largely because most common people firmly distinguished between the two: witches were seen as being harmful and cunning folk as useful. The name itself resonates with the legend of the Cunning Man in Burghfield Bridge in Berkshire. Various stories exist regarding the legend, cite the Cunning Man as a wizard from nearby Tadley, who was able to heal both ailments and broken relationships. The name is also the title of a novel by Canadian author, Robertson Davies, but whether Pratchett was thinking of either of these sources is unknown. The "Cunning Man" also resonates with the phrase, the "Common Man", ie the ordinary person who is a witness to it all - significant in that the "Cunning Man" works hard to turn the "Common Man" into a vehicle of hatred and viciousness.
(Doubleday hardback p 41) - Tiffany says to Rob Anybody, "You don't want people coming up to your mound with shovels, do you? You keep away from bigjobs, you hear me?" This foreshadows Roland's men going to the mound with shovels to dig out Amber.
(Doubleday hardback p 46) - Pratchett's Discworld is full of strange flower and plant references that are plays on Roundworld ones. Climbing Henry and Twirling Betty the two latest.
(Doubleday hardback p 47) - Jeannie comments when Tiffany mentions that Granny Weatherwax taught her to take away pain. "I hope ye never have occasion to regret the day she did ye that.... kindness." This is probably another bit of foreshadowing for when Tiffany takes away the Baron's pain on his deathbed and ends up accused of his murder, even though she ultimately does not regret it.
(Doubleday hardback p 48) - The two villages, Buckle-Without and Buckle-With-Many are plays on the kind of names that are found in the English countryside where various towns along a stretch of river or area have the same name with a modifier - Dartmouth, Dartmoor (at the mouth or on the moor of the Dart, Upper and Lower Slaughter, etc. Pratchett is likely using a town like Buckland in the Moor as the source of these ones and combining them with fashion accessories.
(Doubleday hardback p 50) - The Feegles and their 'livestock herding' resonates with the border reivers who stole cattle and terrorized the Scottish and English border area between the 13th and 17th century. Later on page 93 they are branding their snails to show ownership, just like cattle was branded in the Americas and later, Australia.
(Doubleday hardback p 56) - The old woman watching Tiffany from the Feegle mound who vanishes foreshadows both Esk time travelling to meet Tiffany in the here and now and the older Tiffany herself meeting the younger one at the end of the novel.
(Doubleday hardback p 57) - "The hare runs into the fire" Like cats, hares are important figures in folk lore around the world; hares are seen as tricksters, fast and elusive - one interesting tale is the Algonquin story of the Great Hare who brought summer to defeat winter much like has happened in the Wintersmith. There is also the African trickster who became Brer Rabbit when he migrated to North America with the slaves, the Welsh hare that Gwion became to escape Ceridwen after he accidentally stole the wisdom she was brewing for her son, the Aesop's fable hare and, for the purposes of this novel, shapeshifting Scottish hares associated with witchcraft. These stories include tales of hares being injured and those ‘bites and rives and scarts’ showing on human bodies, or of hares shot with crooked sixpences transforming into dying old women (witches). Supposedly witches transformed themselves into hares as a means of escaping the flames during the witch trials because hares were agile enough to leap through the flames. Isobel Gowdie of Auldearn, when accused of witchcraft, claimed to become a hare with the words:
☀I sall goe intill ane haire
With sorrow, and sych, and meikle care
And I sale goe in the Divellis nam
Ay whill I com hom againe
There is a question of who this particular hare is; Tiffany as her future self, Eskerina Smith time travelling to watch Tiffany, or Granny Weatherwax keeping a watch on Tiffany. The motif is repeated over and over during the course of the novel. As for whether a hare can really jump through fire as Pratchett mentions in the afterword - obviously that would depend on the size of the fire.
(Doubleday hardback p 61) - Tiffany uses Boffo to keep the old woman that the villagers let freeze while stoning her cat to death foremost in their minds. She plants rare flowers and catnip on their graves without telling them so that they think magic is at work, reminding them to feel guilty about their actions.
(Doubleday hardback p 63) - "look at adverts for gingerbread cottages in the builder's brochure" is an obvious reference to the witch in the wood in the Grimm's fairy tale, "Hansel and Gretel". Pratchett regularly uses this line in the witches and Tiffany Aching series, along with the "oven" and "cackling" to refer to witches who have gone over to the dark side.
(Doubleday hardback p 67) - Joe Aching says to Tiffany, "There are some things a whole village has to do". This is an ironic reference to the famous African proverb, "It takes a village to raise a child" which means that it takes an entire community of different people interacting with children in order for a child to experience and grow in a safe environment, with all the villagers looking out for the children and contributing toward their development. Clearly, this village has missed the mark completely in allowing Amber to be beaten and her unborn child to die because of her father's abuse and Joe Aching is adamant it won't happen again.
(Doubleday hardback p 67) - Nurse Spruce (whose name reflects someone who is neat and clean and likely never gets her hands dirty) tells Tiffany that she has been praying for (the Baron) all morning. Tiffany replies that she is "sure that was very kind of you" keeping the sarcasm out of her voice. A subtle Pratchett shot at religion and people who talk but don't do - reflected in the fact that the nurse has done nothing to ease the Baron's pain.
(Doubleday hardback p 71-72) - Clearly the Baron, like Pratchett, is a wordsmith as his and Tifffany's explanation of 'arse' vs 'ass' are quite correct. 'Arse' in fact is the original form of the word for "buttocks" coming from Old English ærs "tail, rump," from Proto-Germanic *arsoz (Old Saxon) and is common usage in Britain. 'Ass' means a donkey there, whereas in the USA, 'ass' is used for both and 'arse' is considered to be an affectation.
(Doubleday hardback p 73) - Tiffany says to the Baron in regard to her rescuing Roland from the Elves and not telling anyone, "boys with swords rescue girls. That's how the stories go. That's how stories work. No one really wanted the think the other way round." In myth, legend, fairy tales and saga it is always the man who is the knight in shining armour rescuing the blue eyed, blond princess. The woman's role is to be the passive victim. Fortunately times have changed.
(Doubleday hardback p 75) - Roundworld currency, like the Baron's old dollars, was originally based on the concept that the coin had an actual value in an of itself to the same amount as its designated currency. Hence silver and gold were used, not brass, and, if a lesser amount was needed, the coin was simply cut into pieces (a concept which Pratchett uses in Going Postal). '"he real 'shilling" was therefore a coin that was really worth 1/20 of a British pound.
(Doubleday hardback p 77) - Tiffany tells the Baron that Death says the afterlife has no mustard or pickles. In other novels it evidently also has no chutney. Perhaps Pratchett is suggesting that in fact the afterlife has no 'relish' for him.
(Doubleday hardback p 78) - (Doubleday hardback p 67) - Nurse Spruce screams, "Get out of here you brazen hussy." to which Tiffany replies, "I am not brazen and I don't huss!" Pratchett is playing on words here. A hussy is a wanton woman, the word coming from more honorable origins, Middle English huswif, housewife. It is not a diminutive of huss as is common with 'y' or 'ie' endings in English. However, John Huss was a Czech religious reformer so if Pratchett is thinking of anything else he may be suggesting that Tiffany sticks to her methods and witch craft skills and 'is not going to change for anyone,especially the nurse. The use of 'brazen' is also significant given the previous discussion on real money and the use of 'brass' instead of gold or silver in modern Discworld and Roundworld coins.
(Doubleday hardback p 79) - The nurse then calls Tiffany a "black and midnight hag". This is a reference to the title of the book but also to the witches in Shakespeare's Macbeth Act 4, Scene 1 where Macbeth says, "How now, you secret, black and midnight hags." Again Pratchett has fun with the line by having Tiffany reply "It's only eleven thirty!"
(Doubleday hardback p 79) -The little Baron's tweed jacket did smell of 'wee', not because he had urinated in it but, as Pratchett explains in the footnote, because urine was used as a mordant in the weaving and woolen industry to set dyes in the cloth so that they did not run. In other Ankh-Morport based novels, Harry King collects urine for this purpose and is know as the King of the Golden River (urine).
The Baron tells Tiffany that his father sang "The Larks They Sang Melodious". This traditional folk song was first published around 1810 and is also known as "Pleasant and Delightful" or "A Sailor and His True Love". It has been performed by artists including the Irish Rovers, Louis Killen, Charlie Bate, Shirley Collins and Show of Hands.
(Doubleday hardback p 95-97) - The characters of the Pettys are typical of abusive relationships in literature and the real world (if there can be anything 'typical' about abuse). The wife in denial that her husband is a bad man going back to him, siding with him against the world. The husband showing glimmers of goodness between the abuse and being nice to the wife 'provided dinner was on time'. The depressed state of the family home leading to more abuse, more depression, etc in an endless cycle. And the belief that the wife needs to stand by her man because he needs her. When Tiffany suggests a short holiday from his abuse, Mrs.Petty gasps, "Oh no!" "He wouldn't know what to do without me!"
(Doubleday hardback p 99) - A geas (pronounced gesh), in Irish folklore and Feegle tradition is an obligation or prohibition magically imposed on a person. Throughout the series, Daft Wullie confuses it with a 'flock of big burdies' - 'geese'.
(Doubleday hardback p 103) "'Still, it could have been worse', she told herself. 'There could have been snakes on the broomstick."' Pratchett has used variations on this reference to the movie Snakes on a Plane before in The Fifth Elephant with snakes on a sleigh and Carpe Jugulum with snakes in a coach.
(Doubleday hardback p 103) - The Feegles could "feel the wind beneath their kilts" while riding Tiffany's broom. This is a reference to the song "Wind Beneath My Wings" (sometimes titled "The Wind Beneath My Wings" and "Hero") written in 1982 by Jeff Silbar and Larry Henley and recorded first by Roger Whittaker but popularized by Bette Midler in the 1988 movie, Beaches, winning two Grammys for record of the year and song of the year. Obviously it is also a reference to the fact that nothing is worn under the kilt of a Feegle.
Doubleday hardback p 105) -Tiffany's landing of her flaming broomstick on top of the moving coach has its parallel in the standard operating procedure for aircraft landing on the deck of a moving carrier at sea. This is just one of many allusions in the book and series that compare broom and broom travel to plane travel. For example on page 173 one of the Feegles riding on her broom says, "We are experiencing some turbulence...If ye look to the right and tae the left ye will see that there are no emergency exits-" There is also the reference to a leather strap on the broom which is clearly the seat belt.
Doubleday hardback p 106) - The parcel coach driver drops the ball which is obviously based on the mirror balls or disco balls popular at discotheques in the 1970s. Just like the dance moves associated with disco were frowned upon by puritanical types as being 'sex with clothes on', so too was the waltz when it first came out, as the coach driver points out to Tiffany.
Doubleday hardback p 108) - When surnames were first becoming common, people often took a surname based on their occupation - Carpenter, Smith, etc. Pratchett is playing with this in a couple of ways in the coach driver being named William Glottal Carpetlayer. Firstly, as Tiffany points out, he is a coachman so should have that as a surname. But secondly, there were no carpets when this practice began so there would have been no people taking the surname 'Carpetlayer' anyway. Pratchett, who loves to play with language and word origins, adds to this by following the common English first name of "William" with the middle name of "Glottal". A "glottal stop" is a type of consonantal sound used in many spoken languages, produced by obstructing airflow in the vocal tract or, more precisely, the glottis. The symbol in the International Phonetic Alphabet that represents this sound is ⟨ʔ⟩. An example in English is "oh-oh"
Doubleday hardback p 108) - The horseman's word is another example of Pratchett playing with 'horsewhispering' which she uses in connection to Petulia Gristle, the pig borer.
Doubleday hardback p 110-111) The language that the Cunning Man puts into people's mouths is the kind of universal language used by zealots throughout the world but more specifically to the hell fire and brimstone preachers of the early Protestant breakaway churches which continue in the fundamentalist Christian sects popular in the USA today.
Doubleday hardback p 117) - Boffo's Joke Emporium was introduced in Wintersmith and is the source of the Witches' term Boffo - "the power of expectations"; the strength one gains from behaving exactly as someone expects you to. As well as selling accoutrements to make the everyday witch look the part, they also sell regular practical joke products.
Doubleday hardback p 118) - For the Hag in a Hurry products "Because you're worthless" is a play on the commercial slogan for French cosmetic company L'Oreal - "Because you're worth it"
Doubleday hardback p 121) - The pink balloons hanging from the ceiling are clearly condoms - "Welcome to life in the big city". This is confirmed later in the novel on page 154 where Tiffany responds to Mrs. Proust saying, "I can't abide smut!" with "Really?....With half a shop window full of pink inflatable wossnames and other mysterious items that I didn't get a chance to see very clearly?"
Doubleday hardback p 123) - "Mrs. Proust was the evil witch from the fairy stories....the sound of the oven door slamming on the children". Oven doors and the reference to gingerbread houses are common reference in the Pratchett novels - obviously the witch in Hansel and Gretel in the Grimms Fairy Tales. Her warts and appearance are all her own and not from her Boffo Catalogue. She likely takes her name from Marcel Proust the influentialMrs. Proust French novelist and the concept of "Proustian" coined from his works. Proustian means relating to or evoking the recall of a forgotten memory.
Doubleday hardback p 123) - The broomstick "passed down the generations from witch to witch, sometimes needing a new handle, sometimes needing new bristles, but always .... the same broomstick." is a reference to the joke about the original axe that has had its handle and blade replaced over and over but was still "original".
Doubleday hardback p 130) - Wee Mad Arthur the Watchman and "legal Fleegle" is a typical kind of Pratchett word play/pun. The original Roundworld rhyme is "legal beagle" meaning a lawyer.
Doubleday hardback p 130) - Chaffinch's Ancient and Classical Mythology is a play on the Roundworld reference book, Bullfinch's Mythology (Chaffinch and Bullfinch both being birds). The feasting hall referred to is an obvious reference to the Norse Gods' Valhalla.
Doubleday hardback p 131) - The Duchess had "so much blue blood in her veins that she ought to explode." Later on the reader learns that she has none but is a dance hall singer who married well.
Doubleday hardback p 136) - As mentioned before, the prince doesn't rescue the mousy brown haired girl. She remains a servant or, as Tiffany points out, a witch. The princess is the blond, blue eyed bimbo. The tiara, worn once in a blue moon goes to her.
(Doubleday hardback p 137) - "I told you to find him; I didn't tell you you were supposed to pull the doors off!" Tiffany's rebuke to the Feegle echoes the famous line in the 1965 movie, The Italian Job which Pratchett also used in The Fifth Elephant when bankrobbing mastermind Michael Caine upbraids his hapless gelignite man who has just vaporised an entire security van.
(Doubleday hardback p 142) - Mrs. Proust says, "Poison goes where poison's welcome" and adds, "There's always an excuse.... to throw a stone at the old lady who looks funny. It 's always easier to blame somebody. And once you've called someone a witch, then you'd be amazed how many things you can blame her for". This fits in with the central theme of the book, the way people scapegoat other people who are different. The murderer is often seen as the outsider or transient, not the fine upstanding person next door. She continues the theme to show how one by one people are eliminated until there is only you. The most famous polemic associated with this is the poem by the German Lutheran pastor Martin Niemöller (1892–1984) called "First They Came For...". It is about the cowardice of German intellectuals following the Nazis' rise to power and subsequent incremental purging of their chosen targets, group after group. Many variations and adaptations in the spirit of the original have been published in the English language. It deals with themes of persecution, guilt and responsibility. The most famous version is:
First they came for the Socialists, and I did not speak out--
Because I was not a Socialist.
Then they came for the Trade Unionists, and I did not speak out--
Because I was not a Trade Unionist.
Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out--
Because I was not a Jew.
Then they came for me--and there was no one left to speak for me.
(Doubleday hardback p 142) - Mrs. Proust continues with her history lesson by talking about the witches that were pressed to death (in French peine forte et dure). This was a common method of coercing someone who was charged with a crime to enter a plea (if they refused to enter a plea their land and property was not forfeited to the crown if they were found guilty). In some cases, rather than increase the weight of stones crushing the person, the person would be left to slowly suffocate over several days. However, this was not a common punishment for witches and the only death by peine forte et dure in American history was Giles Corey, who was pressed to death on September 19, 1692, during the Salem witch trials, after he refused to enter a plea in the judicial proceeding. According to legend, his last words as he was being crushed were "More weight", and he was thought to be dead as the weight was applied. This is referred to in Arthur Miller's political drama The Crucible (1953), where Giles Corey is pressed to death after refusing to plead "aye or nay" to the charge of witchcraft.
Doubleday hardback p 142) - "What rough thing opened the eyes that it had not got and wondered who you were?" is a reference to William Butler Yeats poem, The Second Coming in which he says:
And what rough beast, its hour come round at last, Slouches towards Bethlehem to be born?
The 'rough beast' of the poem is a reference to the anti-Christ in the Book of Revelations. Pratchett's choice of juxtaposing a reference to the anti-Christ with the Cunning Man is a clever one because on the surface the latter represents a common religious anti-witch sentiment (in theory on the side of Christ) but in reality, like the 'rough beast' he is evil incarnate and its evil is just waiting to be born.
(Doubleday hardback p 143) - The lady who lives in the city to which Mrs. Proust is referring is Eskarina Smith. Pratchett hinted when questioned during his Wintersmith tour that Esk, the female wizard featured in Equal Rites, might reappear for the first time in this book if it were written. In this novel Eskarina Smith is now an experienced female wizard who has mastered time travel and became very powerful.
(Doubleday hardback p 145) - "....Corporal Nobbs ...was, for want of a better way of describing him, and in the absence of any hard biological evidence to the contrary, your man." In fact, Nobby Nobbs has a certificate to prove he is a member of the human race, all evidence to the contrary.
(Doubleday hardback p 146-147) - Wee Mad Arthur's explaination that he was raised by gnome cobblers is a reference to the Grimms Fairy Tale, The Shoemaker and the Elves. The original German title is Die Wichtelmänner which translates as The Gnomes.
(Doubleday hardback p 149) - Small beer and cider were the regular drink in Roundworld as in Discworld before the days of purification of water because the relationship between sewage, germs and disease was not understood. Rivers, which were the source of drinking water for downstream communities, were also the sewers for those upstream. Wells were often located in pastures near where animal and human waste was deposited.
(Doubleday hardback p 149) this is a reference to the movie The Birdman of Alcatraz which has led to the movie cliche about long-term solitary confinement prisoners, often dangerous killers, keeping caged birds for company in their cells. This also resonates with "it's a sin to kill a mockingbird," the only thing called a sin in the Harper Lee novel of the same name and foreshadows the Cunning Man taking over the body of the murderer, killing his bird and escaping. As an aside, Robert Stroud, the real-life "Birdman of Alcatraz" never kept caged birds in his life, and certainly not during his incarceration. He was a devious, manipulative and thoroughly loathsome double murderer with paedophilic tendencies, who knew how to play a good PR game. He convinced a charismatic lawyer to fight his appeals. This led to a romantic and wildly inaccurate book being written about him which was turned into a Hollywood movie with Burt Lancaster in the title role, which established the fiction firmly in the public eye. (Source: Perfect Victims by Bill James, Simon and Schuster, 2011)
(Doubleday hardback p 153) - The 'King's Head Pub' has been reassembled back to front by the Feegles so more correctly should be called the "King's Arse" but is now politely known as the "King's Neck".
(Doubleday hardback p 154) - "Old Stoneface Vimes" is a play on the nickname given to Oliver Cromwell "Old Ironsides" with likely a bit of the US Confederate Army General Stonewall Jackson thrown in. Old Stoneface was described as having "warts and all" which was a play on the real quote from Cromwell, who requested that his portrait by Sir Peter Lely be painted "warts and everything".
(Doubleday hardback pp 159) - The talking mice are a reference to an earlier Pratchett novel, The Amazing Maurice and his Educated Rodents.
(Doubleday hardback pp 160) - Tiffany says, in response to Esk's question about kissing the Wintersmith, "Look, it was just a peck, OK? Certainly no tongues!" Clearly Tiffany is tired of the insinuations linking her to the Wintersmith in a romantic relationship since this is an obvious reference to passionate French kissing. A peck would indicate no romantic attachment, even though in the novel the Wintersmith hoped to make Tiffany his queen and she was initially attracted to him. And equally clearly, the kiss had to be more than a peck to have melted the Wintersmith with Tiffany's fire.
(Doubleday hardback pp 160-161) - Pratchett has used the image of burning books before, in Going Postal for one. This is a reference to the many examples of the suppression of free speech and knowledge by organizations in power. In some cases, the destroyed works are irreplaceable and their burning constitutes a severe loss to cultural heritage. As early as China's Qin Dynasty (213–210 BCE) books were burned and scholars buried. Other examples include, the burning of the Library of Alexandria (c. 49), the obliteration of the Library of Baghdad (1258), the destruction of Aztec codices by Itzcoatl (1430s), and the burning of the Maya codices on the order of bishop Diego de Landa (1562). In these cases the books were irreplaceable but in other cases, such as the Nazi book burnings, copies survived. Ray Bradbury's novel Fahrenheit 451 (the temperature at which books burn) is devoted to the subject and was supposedly written because of Bradbury's concern for book burning in America during the McCarthy era of the 1950s.
(Doubleday hardback pp 160-163) - The story that Eskarina Smith tells Tiffany about the Cunning Man is set up like a fairly tale, which Pratchett regularly references throughout the book and series. Tiffany and the reader is waiting for the Cunning Man to renounce his ways, use his sword to save the beautiful maiden/witch and ride off into the sunset. The twist comes when she, knowing his true nature, pulls him into the fire so that they both perish. There are obvious parallels between the Cunning Man and the legend of the phoenix, rising from the burning pyre and ashes to be reborn again over and over.
(Doubleday hardback pp 162-163) In the 1500′s, it was a common superstition that if you didn’t break up an eggshell after emptying it of the egg, a witch would snatch it up, use it as a boat, sail out to sea, and cast spells that would cause storms and sink ships! In the 1840′s the Irish who emigrated to America would break eggshells to keep the Irish Fairies who’d accompanied them to America from going home by eggshell boat.
(Doubleday hardback p 163) - The book, The Bonfire of the Witches clearly gets its name from the 1987 Tom Wolfe political, racial and social satire, The Bonfire of the Vanities.
(Doubleday hardback p 165) - Elasticated String Theory is a play on the theoretical framework in physics in which the point-like particles of particle physics are replaced by one-dimensional objects called strings. Elasticated String Theory likely makes the whole premise more flexible.
(Doubleday hardback p 164) - Wee Mad Arthur gloomily intones "It will be certain death to go in there. Certain death! you'll all be doomed!" This was the catch-phrase of Scottish comic actor John Laurie, who played the gloomy undertaker and over-age soldier Private Frazer in "Dad's Army" .
(Doubleday hardback p 168) - The 'Unreal Estate' is a play on Real Estate (ie the physical location of a property and the buildings on it). Clearly the place where Tiffany is meeting with Esk is not a real place but is some kind of magical location.
(Doubleday hardback p 171) - Esk's reply to Tiffany's question "Do you know what the time is?" is "It is a way of describing one of the notional dimensions of four dimensional space". (length, width and height being the other three). This is the typical smart-assed nerdy reply one would expect from a wizard. However, there are many song titles from Rare Essence and Kool Moe Dee's songs of the same name, to Chicago's Does Anyone Really Know What Time it Is, to Pink Floyd, David Bowie and the Chambers Brothers. Whether Pratchett was thinking of any of them is unknown.
(Doubleday hardback p 173) - The sign that says, "If you are close enough to read this sign, you really, really, shouldn't be." is clearly a jab at the bumper stickers on cars with the same line.
Doubleday hardback p 175) - Pratchett's footnote regarding hoof position on equestrian statues is correct in stating that it is an urban legend in both the USA (in particular toward Civil War statues) and in Britain. He spoofs the whole notion when he adds the horse with 3 feet off the ground, 4 feet off the ground and 5 feet in the air. The 1967 song Equestrian Statue by the Bonzo Dog Band (who Pratchett has referenced in other works) describes a statue marching up and down the square like Lord Rust's statue.
Doubleday hardback p 176) - Mrs.Proust says, "In this neighbourhood we don't just watch." This is a reference to the anti-crime campaign and network called "Neighbourhood Watch".
(Doubleday hardback pp 176-177) ..."the young Eskarina had met at the University a young man called Simon who had been cursed by the Gods with almost every possible ailment that mankind was prone to. But because the Gods have a sense of humour, although it's a rather strange one, they had granted him the power to understand....well, everything. He could barely walk without assistance but was so brilliant that he managed to keep the whole universe in his head. Wizards... would flock to hear him talk about space and time and magic as if they were all part of the same thing. And young Eskarina had fed him and cleaned him and helped him get about and learned from him - well, everything."
Clearly Simon is patterned after Stephen Hawking and Esk's role is that of Jane Wilde. Simon and Hawking both speak to their peers through a machine and are unable to move, talk, or do very much for themselves. Simon describes part of the knowledge as elasticated string theory, a phenomena which Eskarina says, in a discourse with Tiffany, has at least sixteen different dimensions... compare this to Hawking on superspace and string theory.
(Doubleday hardback p 179) - Wee Mad Arthur tells Tiffany he loves ballet and has seen Swan on a Hot Tin Lake. This is a combination of Tchaikovsky's ballet Swan Lake and Tennessee William's play Cat on a Hot Tin Roof.
(Doubleday hardback p 184) - Tiffany quotes Granny Weatherwax in her line at the mound "Evil begins when you begin to treat people as things".
(Doubleday hardback p 187) - Tiffany's comments to Roland "The past needs to be remembered. If you do not know where you come from, then you don't know where you are, and if you don't know where you are, then you don't know where you are going." This is a variation on the famous speech by Winston Churchill to the House of Commons in 1948, "Those who fail to learn from history are condemned to repeat it.”which in turn was based on George Santayana's line, "Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it".
(Doubleday hardback pp 194 - 201) - Pratchett has clearly patterned the Duchess after the former Prime Minister of Britain, Margaret Thatcher. She, like the Duchess, was a bully, felt that the country had been allowed to fall to rack and ruin, believed in a firm hand and was the kind of person who would 'put the blame for (any collateral damage to innocent bystanders) onto the victim." The analogy is complete when the Duchess screams at Preston that '"Madam' is a title for the wives of grocers". Thatcher was the daughter of a grocer. Pratchett uses references to her throughout his works.
(Doubleday hardback p 196) - The debate between Tiffany's father and mother reflects the age old issue of privilege, power and the purpose of government. In the Middle Ages the rise of the aristocracy came about because ordinary people needed some means of protections from outsiders. The Baron and his connections all the way to the king, provided that security in exchange for fealty to him. Eventually, as Tiffany's father points out, through bullying, coercion and writing laws to suit him and his powerful friends, he because the primary landowner and that fealty meant that the common people were little more than slaves. Tiffany's mother on the other hand sees nothing wrong with the system because the present incumbent is a nice person and besides which, she feels the need for protection, to which Tiffany's father retorts, "Protect us from who?" Today we see the same debate in regard to Islamic fundamentalism and government justifying imposing more and more restrictions on citizens' rights to protect us from a perceived threat and which are really designed to ensure that the powerful retain their positions of power - laws to limit free assembly and free association, to limit collective bargaining rights, to force workers back to work on the basis of public interest and the welfare of the country, to restrict .
(Doubleday hardback pp 200 - 201) - Preston tells the Duchess that he is can't imprison Tiffany because of "Happy ass corp ass". He means 'Habeas Corpus" which is medieval Latin meaning literally "that you have the body". It is a recourse in law through which a person can report an unlawful detention or imprisonment to a court and request that the court order the custodian of the person, usually a prison official, to bring the prisoner to court, to determine whether the detention is lawful.
(Doubleday hardback p 202) - The issue of where does the extra mass go when a person is turned into a cockroach, as explained by Preston was demonstrated in A Hat Full of Sky, with the balloon blob floating around the shop after Tiffany/hiver turns the shop assistant into a toad.
(Doubleday hardback p 204) - The words and their sounds which Preston discusses with Tiffany, clearly a fan of language like Pratchett, forgiveness, conundrum and susurration all tie in with the events surrounding the Cunning man. Conundrum means a confusing and difficult problem or question. Susurration means whispering, muttering or rustling. And ultimately, forgiveness is required in regard to the various villagers and the Baron after the Cunning Man is defeated.
(Doubleday hardback p 212) - The Duchess refers to Tiffany as a 'creature'. This is another common strategy in prejudice and racism - to dehumanize the targetted group. Nicknames such as Kraut, Jerry, Hun, Coon, WOP, Charlie, Sambo, Frog, Pom, etc are all designed to make the person casting the slur forget that the other person is a human being just like himself.
(Doubleday hardback p 212) - Roland's actions in ordering Tiffany off his land based on rumour and circumstantial evidence is very reminiscent of the actions of the US government in imprisoning supposed Taliban 'terrorists' in Guantanamo Bay without charge for years and years. Tiffany correctly demands a hearing, something these prisoners have been unable to obtain.
(Doubleday hardback p 217) - Rob Anybody says, "If there's any clearances here...it will be us that is doing the clearing!" This is a reference to the Highland Clearances in Scotland where tenant farmers were removed forcibly from their land so that the lairds could raise sheep which were more profitable.
(Doubleday hardback p 218) - The reference to the 'five ball and chains, if anyone ever decided to write a Good Dungeons Guide" is a play on the various rating systems for restaurants and hotels; Michelin guides with their three stars and Forbes guides and their five stars on the international scene, as well the guide books produced by AA, Visit Britain, Visit Scotland and Visit Wales in Britain, to name a few.
(Doubleday hardback p 219) - "Because being goats, they were already eating their dinner for the second time." Goats are ruminants and have four stomach compartments, They are able to get extra nutrition out of plant fiber by fermenting it in one stomach compartment to partially break it down and then re-chewing it to aid digestion in subsequent compartments - chewing their cud.
(Doubleday hardback p 219) - Brian the Sergeant says to Tiffany, :It's not me, you understand, it's them upstairs. It seems like her grace is calling the shots now." to which Tiffany responds, "I'm sorry, Brian, but, you see, it is you. Not just you, of course,and, not even mostly you...." This is the argument made at Nuremberg after WWII that "I was only following orders" is no defense as well as the importance of standing up against what is wrong as illustrated in Martin Niemöller famous poem mentioned above.
(Doubleday hardback p 222) - Tiffany had "known all along that she'd never be a lady, not without the long blonde hair. It was totally against the whole book of fairy tales" This is another reference to the whole fairytale genre. As Pratchett, through Tiffany said before, the mousy brown haired girl remains the servant or witch while the blonde blue eyed one is swept off her feet by Prince Charming.
(Doubleday hardback p 219) - Tiffany says, "This is not going to be about spinning wheels is it?" which is an obvious reference to the fairy tale of Sleeping Beauty where the wicked fairy godmother puts a spell on the christening so that Sleeping Beauty will die if she pricks her finger on a spinning wheel. Pratchett then pokes fun at the genre and story by wondering whether brambles still kept growing 'up people's nostrils' while the castle inhabitants slept.
(Doubleday hardback p 228-230) - Pratchett continues the debate about is a person a good person if they unquestioningly follow the orders of an evil person when Rob Anybody comments to Tiffany regarding Brian the guard "Oh aye, sure, a decent person who will lock you up on the biddings of that snotty old carlin."
(Doubleday hardback p 228) - "Shock and Awe" is another line that Pratchett uses regularly (Monstrous Regiment for example) and was the name of a military doctrine first coined by Harlan K. Ullman and James P. Wade to describe a strategy of overwhelming dominance of an opponent and which was used by the USA in its 2003 invasion of Iraq; the words almost immediately becoming a household phrase throughout the world.
(Doubleday hardback p 232) - The Iron Maiden was a medieval torture and execution device, consisting of an iron cabinet with a hinged front and spike-covered interior, sufficiently tall to enclose a human being. The person was placed inside and the door progressively closed so that the spikes pierced the body inside.
(Doubleday hardback p 232) - The Maiden Tower likely draws its inspiration and name from the tower of the same name (also known as Leander's Tower) in Istanbul, Turkey at the southern entrance to the Bosphorus. There are several legends associated with it but the one that fits with this novel (in particular the Duchess' desire to destroy all the spinning wheels) is the following: an oracle prophesied that the much beloved daughter of the emperor would be killed by a venomous snake on her 18th birthday. The emperor, to prevent the prophecy from coming true, had atower built in the middle of the Bosphorus to protect his daughter from any snakes (the usual symbolic interpretations about what kind of snakes these were is obvious) until her 18th birthday. The princess was placed in the tower, where she was visited only by her father. On her 18th birthday, the emperor brought her a basket of exotic sumptuous fruits as a birthday gift, delighted that he was able to prevent the prophecy. However, upon reaching into the basket, an asp that had been hiding among the fruit bit the young princess and she died in her father's arms, just as the oracle had predicted, hence the name Maiden's Tower.
(Doubleday hardback p 235) - Letitia says "I wanted to be a witch when I was little. But just my luck, I had long blonde hair and a pale complexion, and a very rich father. What good was that! Girls like that can't be witches!" This is another jab at the fairy tale stereotype of the blonde blue eyed maiden getting the handsome Prince Charming from the blonde blue eyed maiden's perspective - the modern twist being that she wants to be more than a vacuous trophy wife who does watercolours.
(Doubleday hardback p 232) - The fairy tale book with the goblin on page seven is a recurring theme throughout the series; used in the witches/Tiffany Aching series as something all children were afraid of and used in other novels (Raising Steam and Making Money) from the goblins perspective as a stereotype to vilify the goblins.
(Doubleday hardback p 236) - Unsympathetic magic is an obvious references to "sympathetic magic" which is the concept that 'like produces like', or that 'an effect resembles its cause'; and, second, that 'things which have once been in contact with each other continue to act on each other at a distance after the physical contact has been severed'. So burning an effigy or sticking pins in a doll that is a symbol of the real person, causes similar pain or death to the target. Pratchett turns this concept literally on its head by saying the method Letitia used was the ostrich trick - sticking the effigy's head in the sand bucket. This would make it unsympathetic since 'like' does not resemble 'like' (Tiffany clearly does not end up having her head in the sand like an ostrich as a result of Letitia's magic so the carved witch doll is not representative of Tiffany). The choice of an ostrich and its legend is significant to the novel because throughout the novel, other people stick their heads in the sand and ignore the bad things that are going on around them.
(Doubleday hardback p 239) - Spells for Lovers by Anathema Bugloss sounds like the typical kind of new age wiccan books one finds on the internet, Her first name, "Anathema" means something or someone that one vehemently dislikes. "Bugloss" is a type of borage plant as well as being a moth that feeds on these plants.
(Doubleday hardback p 239) - The town, Ham-on-Rye is a play on English place names that combine the town's name with the river beside which it is located (such as Hay on Wye) with a sandwich made on rye bread. The town is also mentioned in Snuff. The Rye is a river in Ireland, a tributary of the Liffey.
(Doubleday hardback p 239) - The line, "You had to do things that needed doing, but which turned your stomach like a spinning wheel" hearkens back to the Sleeping Beauty/spinning wheel reference again.
(Doubleday hardback p 244) - Pratchett pokes fun at the whole 'ghosts haunting castles' oeuvre with; Mavis, the headless ghost carrying the pumpkin as a head substitute, her death caused by a staircase, scythe and cat rather than the usual beheadings like Ann Boleyn's who supposedly haunts her home of Blickling Hall in Norfolk, the screaming skeleton, now pacified with a teddy bear and the first Duke, who pulls the toilet chain instead of raining blood.
(Doubleday hardback p 245) - The "point-three-0-three bookworm" boring "a hole through an entire shelf of books in a fraction of a second" is a play on the .303 caliber rifle cartridge which was the standard British and Commonwealth military cartridge from 1889 until the 1950s and "Bookworms" which in Roundworld are avid readers, not a destructive beetle larvae.
(Doubleday hardback p 252) - Tiffany tells Letitia that the Cunning Man uses the book as "a kind of window that makes it easy for him to come through." This kind of portal is common in fantasy fiction and film from the wardrobe in CS Lewis' The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe to Philip Pulman's Dark Materials trilogy, where the characters use the 'subtle knife' to carve a doorway from one world to another. This is re-emphasized later when Tiffany is reading HJ Toadbinder's book Floating Worlds which Letitia has given her. HJ Toadbinder's book Floating Worlds is likely a reference to HG Wells and his novel War of the Worlds. In Roundworld, The Floating World (ukiyo) was an expression of the new economy and social ambitions of the common townspeople of the Edo period (1615-1868) in Japan. It was, specifically, a world of play and entertainment in Japan's three main cities (Edo [now called Tokyo], Osaka, and Kyoto). Whether Pratchett was thinking of this in his reference is unknown.
(Doubleday hardback p 268) - Wee Mad Arthur say that if the Baron and his men attack the Feegle mound "great will be the lamentation of the women". This is a reference to the movie, Conan the Barbarian in which Conan says, "To crush your enemies, to see them driven before you, and to hear the lamentations of their women." This in turn was taken from the 1927 Harold Lamb book, GENGHIS KAHN: THE EMPEROR OF ALL MEN, (pages 106-107) where Genghis Kahn says, "to crush your enemies, to see them fall at your feet -- to take their horses and goods and hear the lamentation of their women. That is best."
(Doubleday hardback p 274) - The line, "the world needs cheesemakers" is very similar to the line from Monty Python's Life of Brian "Blessed are the cheese-makers."
(Doubleday hardback p 279) - Preston says to Tiffany, "Quis custodiet ipsos custodes" (who guards the guards or in this case who watches the witches. The original quote has been used many times in Pratchett's works and is very apropos in this novel. It is from Juvenal's "Satires" and translates as "Who shall guard the guardsmen?" but is often translated as "who watches the watchers?" The line originally related to ensuring marital fidelity by locking up one's wife in order to prevent her from cheating, followed by the fear that she may be seduced by the guard watching her. In Discworld, Vimes is constantly concerned about not going over to the dark side and uses this line in reference to watching himself. In the witches/Tiffany Aching series, the witches are always concerned about becoming evil like Black Aliss, trapping innocent children with gingerbread houses and ovens and starting to cackle.
(Doubleday hardback p 279) - The various guards' references to Mrs. Proust's father being able to hang a man in 7 1/4 seconds is a reference to the Roundworld record of 7 seconds for the execution of James Inglis. On the morning of 8 May 1951, the executioner, Albert Pierrepoint and his assistant, Syd Dernley, escorted Inglis from his cell to the gallows immediately adjacent, and hanged him without delay. This was the fastest British hanging on record, taking just seven seconds from the time that Inglis was removed from his cell to the moment that the trapdoor opened. Dernley later related that Inglis practically ran to his execution, following the prison guard's advice to go quickly and "without fuss". Inglis's execution is featured in the 2006 film Pierrepoint; although Inglis's name is not mentioned, the character "Markovsky" was supposed to represent him.
(Doubleday hardback p 282) - The derogatory reference to dwarfs as "lawn ornaments" is an obvious comment on the Round World tendency to place plastic figures of the seven dwarfs on one's lawn as a decoration. Pratchett uses this term throughout his works.
(Doubleday hardback p 282) - The witch whose name is Long Tall Short Fat Sally is another of Pratchett's plays on names - this one combining all her physical attributes into the Little Richard song popularized in the 60s by the Beatles, "Long Tall Sally".
(Doubleday hardback p 282) - Mrs. Proust tells Derek, "Me doing good at my time of life?....Next thing you know, I'll start giving people three wishes." In the fairy tales and legends, three is always a significant number and fairy godmothers, flounders, sednas and witches often give three wishes. Traditionally the first wish goes wrong, the second wish attempts to correct the problem badly and the third wish puts things back the way they were.
(Doubleday hardback p 285) - On the surface the Shaking of the Sheets could be misconstrued to mean the wedding of Roland and Letitia and their marriage bed and perhaps Pratchett might have been using a double entendre. But more correctly it is a dance macabre. The Shaking of the Sheets is a popular ballad originally from England, published in 1568 and recorded by several songwriters over the years. William Chappell inserted it in his collection Old English popular music (1893), while Pratchett's favorite band, Steeleye Span published a version in 1989, contained in the album Tempted and Tried. It takes up the popular themes of the dance with the personification of death. During the dark ages of the Middle Ages the fear of death was widespread, as a result of the terrible waves of plague and widespread disease. In order to avert the terror of the passing away, ballads and songs were born which were meant to make death less terrible, in which the villagers and nobles were bound to dance with the sad reaper, leaving life in a more cheerful and reassuring way. However, these ballads had a dual purpose: to sweeten death but also to celebrate it and to remember its inevitability. Often the theme of danse macabre was joined to that of the memento mori , reminding the dancers that everyone is just passing through this dance that winds between life and death. The personification of death is seen in triumph, almost always with a crown on its head to symbolize its preeminence above all, or with an instrument in hand to guide the dance and lead the dancers. In this novel it immediately heralds the funeral of the Baron but also the potential death of Tiffany if she fails to kill the Cunning Man and ultimately, the death (for now) of the Cunning Man when she does defeat him.
(Doubleday hardback p 285) - When Preston asks Tiffany through the door, "What sound does forgetfulness make" she clearly realizes that she has a soul mate. Contrast Roland's response to a similar question earlier in the novel.
(Doubleday hardback p 287) - "Right her and now" resonates with Right Here, Right Now I the 1990 hit by Jesus Jones and since the line comes right out of the blue, it is likely that Pratchett was thinking of this as a reference.
(Doubleday hardback p 288) - Tiffany says to Pastor Egg, "When I am old, I shall wear midnight" - another reference to the book title and the constant theme throughout the series.
(Doubleday hardback pp 293-295) - The various songs that Nanny Ogg and the others sing at the funeral are an interesting mix reflecting the Baron's childhood to his death:
The Larks They Sang Melodious - a reference back to the earlier conversation between the Baron and Tiffany when the Baron told Tiffany that his father sang "The Larks They Sang Melodious". This traditional folk song was first published around 1810 and is also known as "Pleasant and Delightful" or "A Sailor and His True Love". It has been performed by artists including the Irish Rovers, Louis Killen, Charlie Bate, Shirley Collins and Show of Hands.
The Shaking of the Sheets - as explained above it is a dance macabre and is a popular ballad originally from England, published in 1568 and recorded by several songwriters over the years. William Chappell inserted it in his collection Old English popular music (1893), while Pratchett's favorite band, Steeleye Span published a version in 1989, contained in the album Tempted and Tried.
Down in the Valley, also known as Birmingham Jail, is a traditional country-blues American folk song. It has been recorded by many artists, from Leadbelly, to Bing Crosby, to Jerry Garcia and is included in the Songs of Expanding America recordings in the Burl Ives six-album set Historical America in Song. Pratchett likely chose to include this song for the funeral because of its title rather than its content.
(Doubleday hardback p 300) - Mrs. Proust reveals to Tiffany that the Duchess was a music hall dancer before her marriage and isn't high born as she claims. Later her name the reader learns her name is Deidre Parsley.
(Doubleday hardback p 309) - "the figure of an old witch was melting into the dark stone" This recurring image suggests that it is her future self watching Tiffany. The figure reappears beside Preston when he lights the field on fire (page 318).
(Doubleday hardback p 316) "..by the pricking of my thumbs, something wicked this way comes" is another witch reference to Macbeth and the three witches, alluding to the ability of a witch to sense things others cannot. Pratchett used a variation on this in Wyrd Sisters with the lines - "Can you tell by the pricking of your thumbs?" "By the pricking of my ears." This line is modified when the Cunning Man is destroyed when Tiffany says "By the blinking of my eyes, something wicked this way dies" (page 321)
(Doubleday hardback p 319) "Leap knave, jump whore! Be married now for ever more!" This quote has parallels to Robert Heinlein's classic science fiction story Glory Road and its line "Leap rogue, and jump whore, And married be forevermore". Both draw from the tradition of marriage outside the church by jumping over a broomstick for folk weddings or a sword for military ones. Similar lines are used in both. Tiffany is able to leap through the flames holding onto Roland and Letitia because of her ability to transfer heat from one location to another which she demonstrated earlier to the Baron and in the crypt.
(Doubleday hardback p 321) Tiffany's summation of the Cunning Man is something the world could do with remembering nowadays, "Your power is only rumour and lies, ...You bore your way into people when they are uncertain and weak and worried and frightened, and they think their enemy is other people when their enemy is, and always will be you - the master of lies. Outside, you are fearsome; inside, you are nothing but weakness."
(Doubleday hardback p 332) - It is revealed that Eskarina has a son, whom she must protect. This is the only mention of him in the book.
Doubleday hardback p 334) - Tiffany asks her future self if she ever gets -? and the reply is "listen". Clearly the question is "do I ever get married" and the answer is 'listen to your heart"
Doubleday hardback p 339) - Tiffany's new dress is black as midnight.
Doubleday hardback p 339) - Tiffany is given a golden hare pendant by Preston. This is the only other piece of jewelry she wears after having been given the silver horse by Roland. This completes the Sun-Moon symbology.
Doubleday hardback p 339) - The final question of the novel is "what is the sound of love?" to which Tiffany replies, "Listen".