Given Shelley's allusions--both in his epigraph and in signing the dedication--to the "Miching Mallecho
" of Hamlet's play within a play, Laura Bohannon's ethnographic account, "Miching Mallecho
: That Means Witchcraft," is also of particular interest.
Emma Jocelyn is A Beginner's literary protagonist; and the title of Broughton's novel points to both Emma's status and identity, for she is a beginner when it comes to textual production and she adopts the name "a beginner" as the nom de plume of her book Miching Mallecho. Broughton's novel about naive authorship can be read as a cautionary tale for all would-be upper-class women who believe they can join the fad of authorship.
Miching Mallecho may well be the child of Emma's white, delicate, and upper-class body as fashioned by her lily-like hands, and she may indeed watch over that "beloved offspring" with "gnawing anxiety" (20), but Broughton makes clear that Emma's ambition is misplaced and her book ill-developed and irrelevant, or, as a particularly sadistic review of Emma's book (echoing Samuel Johnson) notes, Miching Mallecho is "ill-fed, ill-killed, ill-kept, ill-dressed, and ill-carved" (126).
Although the text makes insistent references to Miching Mallecho as the "offspring of her brain," Emma's "beloved offspring," her "literary infant" (122), it so castigates the novel for unfeminizing Victorian women, for making a "good, if rather foolish, woman neglect her duties to God and man" (115), that the novel ends with Emma becoming persuaded of its dangers and mournfully agreeing to burn the entire printing, save five copies lost in the circulating libraries.
This dumb show, which silently enacts the king's murder before the play proper can contextualize the crime, is "miching mallecho
," or mischief, as Hamlet immediately tells Ophelia (3.2.137-38).