|The Bride of Death (1839) Thomas Jones Barker|
Okay, I think fake-expiring, as we have already covered, is a little extreme, but rather than collapsing on the way to your relatives, do it in the comfort of your own bed, with bedside table and books within handy reach. The husband is sobbing his heart up because he's realised he's not put his red cabbage on and the guests will be here in less than an hour. Mrs Death is far too comfy on her prodigious amount of pillows and low-cut nightie to be getting up. 'Oh no, my Love, how will I carry on without you?' he sobs. She replies 'Gas mark 2, and serve...snacks...(cough)...to...stall...' You know the moment he leaves the room she is picking up her book. Sadly, I think that probably would be the only way I'd get any serious reading done this time of year.
|Death the Bride (c.1894) Thomas Cooper Gotch|
There really is a genre of brides who die, or young women who find their ideal bridegrooms in death, from Leonore via Tennyson's 'The May Queen' to any tragic lass who snuffs it while her husband sobs. I don't know about you but I really get the impression that Victorians almost thought it was preferable for a woman to die rather than have sex. Mind you, possibly that's what it's all about - Ruskin and Burne-Jones both had rather dubious views concerning the 'damage' all that conjugal unpleasantness had on girls. I suppose it could be a conflation with the fear of death in child-birth that could claim a young wife just when the couple should be at their happiest.
|Till Death Do Us Part (1910) Sigismund Goetze|
Far preferable, apparently, is to go as a pair, and a nudey pair at that. In Goetze frankly peculiar image, a man and woman are going off together. However, I'm not sure everything is well, as the man seems to be reaching into the ether, but the woman's hand has found a hard, unwelcoming surface. She also has brought a wrap in case it's chilly in heaven. I don't want to talk out of turn, but I don't think its a buy-one-get-one-free sort of deal. There are definitely shades of Anna Lea Merritt's Love Locked Out about this. Sorry Love, your name is not on the list, you're not coming in.
So I think our Bride of Death has the right idea. She has a very comfy throw on the bed, I'm sure she has a strategically hidden packet of Hobnobs tucked under her pillow and that bedside table has books. Her weeping husband will have to go and deal with the relatives in a minute, tearfully announcing that his poor wife cannot be disturbed as she is busy expiring. In the meantime, she'll be getting a decent amount of reading done, and having a good snooze, all ready to make a miraculous recovery on Boxing Day, just after the in-laws leave...
See you tomorrow.