Funny / Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell

  • In the tense build-up to Norrell's display of magic at York Cathedral, some of the York magicians begin to remember stories of fairies spiriting people away to other realms never to be seen again, and begin to get a bit worried. The narration rather archly notes that any self-respecting fairy in the mood to kidnap someone to hold them captive and in thrall for all eternity could probably find a more interesting victim than a member of the Learned Society of York Magicians.
  • “You must get me a house, Childermass. Get me a house that says to those that visit it that magic is a respectable profession – no less than Law and a great deal more so than Medicine.”
  • The Ministers being told it would be unwise to resurrect Pitt and Nelson, considering that they had been rotting in the ground for years.
  • The Karmic Death of Laurence Strange. He exposed a rude servant to the elements on a dangerous trip to ensure the servant would gain a fever. He then forced the man to wait upon him hand and foot throughout the night, throwing away comforts such as handwarmers. Finally he forces the young delirious servant to sit with him in the study with the window open and exposed to the winter elements. The other staff find the servant cooled and asleep in the morning, and the elderly master frozen to death.
  • When Norrell is asked to animate a mermaid figurehead of a captured French ship so that she might provide intelligence on French naval power.
    "This Mr Norrell did. But though the mermaid could be made to speak she could not at first be brought to answer any questions. She considered herself the implacable enemy of the British and was highly delighted to be given powers of speech so that she could express her hatred of them. Having passed all her existence among sailors she knew a great many insults and bestowed them very readily on anyone who came near her..."
  • Strange rides to see Arabella, and along the way imagines various conversations he will have with her, which keep ending up going badly.
    Oh! she was certain to say, Poor man! What happened to him? - I do not know, Strange would say. But surely you stayed to help him, she would say. No, Strange would say. Oh!, she would say...
  • Strange animates some corpses killed in the war in Spain, who start speaking in a strange language that includes a lot of screams. Strange says this is probably a dialect of Hell.
    "They have learnt it very quickly," said Lord Wellington. "They have only been dead three days." He approved of people doing things promptly and in a businesslike fashion.
  • Strange complaining to Sir Walter (who is a Cabinet minister): "How is a magician to exist without books? Let someone explain that to me. It is like asking a politician to achieve high office without the benefit of bribes or patronage."
  • Stephen Black is teleported away on another jaunt with the gentleman, and is daunted by his bleak surroundings.
    Vast, grey, gloomy hills rose up all around them and in between the hills there was a wide expanse of black bog. Stephen had never seen a landscape so calculated to reduce the onlooker to utter despair in an instant. "This is one of your kingdoms, I suppose, sir?" he said. "My kingdoms?" exclaimed the gentleman in surprize. "Oh, no! This is Scotland!”
  • "The Emperor Napoleon Buonaparte had been banished to the isle of Elba. However His Imperial Majesty had some doubts whether a quiet island life would suit him..."
  • Strange moves the entire city of Brussels to somewhere in America, which Wellington becomes aware of in "his customary imperturbable fashion." He starts issuing orders but then sees four fierce-looking Native Americans riding by.
    "Oh, and De Lancey! Find someone to ask those fellows if they would like to fight tomorrow, would you? They look as if they could do the business."
    • Later Strange perceives an English soldier trying to teach the Native Americans on how to drink tea, as he believes it is the foundation of civilisation.
  • The Frenchmen avoiding a perfectly serviceable non-magical road because they are afraid it's one of Strange's magic roads (and that such a road will take them to hell, or worse, England).
    [Upon hearing the news] Lord Wellington could not have been more delighted.
  • When Strange helps Wellington defeat Napoleon in Spain, the government considers giving him a title as a reward. In the end they don't, mostly because they'd also have to do the same for Norrell, and no one likes him enough to do it.
  • The gentleman's embarrassed reaction when he discovers that Strange has outsmarted him and discovered a magical technique beyond him, when the insane Strange looks through his spell of concealment. He then awkwardly tries to bluff Strange into revealing the artifact he presumes allowed Strange to do so.
  • In his madness, Strange becomes convinced that everything in the world is full of pineapples. A chapter or so later Lord Byron visits and finds him "raving about candles, pineapples, dances that went on for centuries" et cetera. A month passes, and the mad magician has caused some alarm but little material damage, except for the rather odd circumstance that it is no longer possible to transport pineapples into Venice.
    Why the magician should have taken such a dislike to this particular fruit, no one knows.
    • There's a bit of Brick Joke here as well; earlier in the story, Strange's brother-in-law begins to court a young woman who expresses an intense dislike of pineapples.
  • At the height of the crisis over Strange's madness, the pillar of darkness he's become surrounded by and what appears to be the imminent return of magic to England, an emergency meeting of the Cabinet summons the Duke of Wellington for his counsel over what to do. Wellington's response when asked whether Strange has gone completely mad can basically be summed up as a nonchalant shrug and a "Yeah, but I wouldn't worry too much about it, he probably knows what he's doing."
  • Picture a room crammed with arguing magicians, amongst them the former members of the Learned Society of York Magicians, who are rather annoyed at being lectured by a common and disreputable-looking servant. One demands he show them John Uskglass's book which he claims to carry. Ah, the rogue cannot produce it! A trick, gentlemen, a sham. Childermass grins, probably savouring the moment, and says:
  • During Strange and Arabella's final meeting, Arabella mentions his dramatic departure from the city of Venice, complete with a massive, terrifying storm. Strange sheepishly admits that he'd probably been hanging around with Lord Byron a bit too long.

In the BBC series

  • Vinculus cavorting through the countryside after meeting Strange, in a scene critics called Monty Python-esque.
  • Once Strange has conjured the magical horses from Horse Sand and saved the ship that ran aground, he casually strolls off, commenting "Hot rolls and marmalade, anyone?" to the astounded onlookers.
  • Jonathan Strange's introduction to Wellington.
    Strange: I am Strange.
    Wellington:... Indeed.
  • Strange noting the novelty of "having one's wife at hand whenever..." after being at war, at which point Arabella shushes him, then sends the maid out of the door.
    • At the end of the scene Arabella quickly peeks round the door to see if any staff are near, then starts making out with Jonathan.
  • The entire scene with Mrs Bulworth, culminating in Drawlight scurrying out of the room in terror and Strange very gentlemanly saying good evening to the lady before charging out after Drawlight angrily yelling his name.
  • As Segundus takes Lady Pole on as his first patient, and locks her in a bedroom screaming and ranting, he, optimistic as ever, says "I think that went very well".
  • The British Army officers carefully and studiously ignoring the argument that erupts between Strange and Arabella when he has vanished into the mirror-realm and thence returned, talking excitedly of pioneering these new frontiers of magic. They can't honorably leave, but they can't honorably allow themselves to visibly pay attention to the lengthy argument either. Concluding with:
    Major Grant: Well, thank you for a pleasant evening.
    • It's just as good in the original book, wherein the officers try to politely excuse themselves at a couple of points, only to be ignored by the squabbling couple.
  • Strange's caustic response when Norrell tries to talk him out of using Norrell's library as a physical offering to represent all of English magic.
    I am not about to stand here and summon the most powerful magician that has ever lived and say to him, 'I offer you all of English magic, apart from, I am sorry, Gilbert Norrell's books'!
  • Norrell's stunned reaction when his and Strange's attempts to channel all English magic into the Raven King and bind him to kill the Gentleman with the Thistledown Hair go somewhat awry, channelling it all into Stephen, right before Stephen is shot by Lascelles.
    We have channelled all of English magic into a butler, and he shot him!
  • Norrell being as excited as a boy on having the chance to go on a heroic mission into Faerie and rescue Arabella.
  • Norrell's attempts at dancing, and failing to blend in at Losthope.