Mark Reads ‘Maskerade’: Part 3

In the third part of Maskerade, both Mister Bucket and Agnes learn of the Ghost that haunts the opera. Intrigued? Then it’s time for Mark to read Discworld. 

You know, it’s a neat coincidence that both of the books I’m reading are dealing with set-ups at the same time. With Maskerade, though, Prathett ramps up his parody/extended reference of The Phantom of the Opera, but I don’t quite see a conflict yet. Small ones, sure, but as for the major one that links everything together? I don’t know what that is yet! But there’s a lot of information here to sift through, so let’s get to it!

The Ghost

If you analyze her within a comedy narrative, Agnes is the – forgive the lack of a better term – straight man, the one who sees things as they are and never seems to allow herself to be as ridiculous or absurd as everyone around her. That’s absolutely the case when it comes to the Ghost, who may or may not be killing people around the Opera House. Truthfully, I couldn’t even hazard a guess at this point. It’s not like these deaths and accidents are bringing in a better audience. As far as I could tell, the Opera House is operating terribly. On top of that, based on what Salzella tells Mister Bucket, it sounds like the Ghost of the Opera House isn’t a ghost at all, but someone who just REALLY LOVES THE THEATER. Like, the biggest super fan of all time, so much so that they just never left the theater.

In Christine and many of the other characters, we see the power of superstition, which makes it even funnier to me that Agnes refuses to play along with them. It’s kind of ironic, too, since her witch “tendencies” allows her to be a step ahead of everyone else, such as the flash of insight she gets when she looks at the chandelier:

“That looks like an accident waiting to happen if ever I saw one,” she mumbled.

Agnes exists here as part of the satire; she can state the obvious, and it allows the exaggeration to be even more exaggerated than it previously was, since it’s all the more ridiculous by comparison. The mask scene is probably the best example. No matter how often these characters (especially Mr. Pounder) repeat themselves, she responds the same: this “Ghost” must have a mask on. Right? It’s the only thing to make sense. If he has no nose, how does he smell? Y’ALL, AGNES IS A WOMAN AFTER MY OWN HEART BECAUSE I LOVE MOOD-KILLING LOGISTICAL QUESTIONS MORE THAN MOST THINGS. I remember making a friend of mine mad when I pointed out that the seasons lasted too long in A Song of Ice and Fire for anyone to actually survive during a generation-long winter. THEY WERE SO FURIOUS WITH ME, but I swear, I wasn’t trying to ruin their day or the story!

Anyway, I’m fascinated by the long scene where Salzella updates Mr. Bucket on the purchase he’s made. I loved the idea that Salzella knew that someone was living in the theater, offering up good luck to the performers over the years. I felt like it was a joke referencing superstitions in theater. But if there is a conflict here, I’m guessing it’s in the Ghost’s change in behavior:

“A seamstress stitched herself to the wall. A deputy stage manager was found stabbed with a prop sword. Oh, and you wouldn’t like me to tell you what happened to the man who worked the trapdoor.”

So why would the Ghost suddenly become violent? Why lash out at the people who are creating something that the Ghost loves so very much? Who actually writes out a maniacal laugh? MY FAVORITE KIND OF PERSON, THAT’S WHO.

Nanny and Granny

WHO ELSE HAS RIDDEN A BUS OR A TRAIN WITH NANNY OGG BEFORE? Oh my god, y’all, I don’t know if you know how funny she is to me in these scenes. I can’t even count how many times I’ve met an overly friendly, over-prepared travelers. I once was on an Amtrak to San Diego and the lady across from me brought a HAMMOCK. For the train! She told us excitedly (after having talked for an hour straight without any interaction from anyone who sat near her) that she thought that the train was large enough for her to string it up and take a nap. Someone finally spoke back to her when she suggested that she was going to string it up in the aisle between seats.

They discouraged her from doing so.

I don’t even know if Pratchett intended to poke fun at this kind of travel, but I don’t care. It’s resonating with me because I’ve never owned a car or had a driver’s license, and y’all. If you’ve been a driver your whole life, you are not aware of the parallel universe that frequently spills into our world on long-distance trains and buses. YOU ARE NOT. Nanny Ogg finds a way through L-space into our world every day, and it is totally one of the reasons I love public transportation. It’s so entertaining.

Diane Duane is still offering a massive discount on the first 9 books in the Young Wizards series just to this community, so please take advantage of this deal while you still can:

Mark Links Stuff

– I will be at numerous conventions in 2016! Check the full list of events on my Tour Dates / Appearances page.
– My Master Schedule is updated for the near and distant future for most projects, so please check it often. My next Double Features for Mark Watches will be Death Note and Neon Genesis Evangelion. On Mark Reads, Diane Duane’s Young Wizards series will replace the Emelan books.
- Mark Does Stuff is on Facebook! I’ve got a community page up that I’m running. Guaranteed shenanigans!

About Mark Oshiro

Perpetually unprepared since '09.
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