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Jeruba's avatar

Trying to recall a Gilbert & Sullivan quote: "remains of a fine woman"--?

Asked by Jeruba (48706points) April 7th, 2010

In the spoken dialogue of one of the Gilbert and Sullivan operas, the older female character is described as having the ruins or remains of a fine woman about her.

An older woman who is the butt of jokes for having lost her youthful figure is a staple G&S character, so I am not coming up with any hook that helps me remember which one this is. I’d like to find the exact quote.

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8 Answers

janbb's avatar

Jeruba – You have stumped my librarian brain but I will think on it. I wonder if there’s a concordance for G &S? Are you sure that “ruins” and “fine woman” are the actual terms used? My colleague who is the theater librarian and a real buff might know.

Jeruba's avatar

@janbb, I’m not sure. I tried searching but couldn’t get close enough (although I did learn that my old favorite G&S actor John Reed died just a few weeks ago).

I’m recalling one male character saying something derogatory toward the woman (making a joke of the kind that used to be considered both acceptable and funny—the Marx Brothers got a lot of miles out of them too) and another replying something like “Yet there are the remains of a fine woman about her”—which the woman takes as a compliment. He is saying in one breath that she used to be handsome and that now she is decrepit.

I haven’t seen any G&S questions come up on fluther, as far as I can recall, but the woods are full of G&S buffs, and I figured there’d be one who’d know this right off the top of his or her head.

I’ve seen nearly all the G&S operas, and most more than once, so I can’t narrow the field down by much. I think it’s one of the big three, but it’s at least one of the favorite six.

janbb's avatar

I will get back to you if I can discover anything.

njnyjobs's avatar

Dialogue following No. 2 from the The Pirates of Penzance

Frederic: What a terrible thing it would be if I were to marry this innocent person, and then find out that she is, on the whole, plain!

King: Oh, Ruth is very well, very well indeed.

Samuel: Yes, there are the remains of a fine woman about Ruth.

Frederic: Do you really think so?

Samuel: I do.

Frederic: Then I will not be so selfish as to take her from you. In justice to her, and in consideration for you, I will leave her behind.

janbb's avatar

@njnyjobs Looks like you nailed it!

Jeruba's avatar

@njnyjobs, that’s it, all right. (Ruth was my first nominee in my tags.) Thank you! Did you find a site where you could search on this?

njnyjobs's avatar

I use a proprietary data mining app in my line of work.

Jeruba's avatar

I meant—is there a link?

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