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why on earth should Mrs Ferrars wish to commit suicide?

English grammar help. Grammar questions from ESL learners

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why on earth should Mrs Ferrars wish to commit suicide?

Postby masonsouth » Sat Jun 15, 2013 9:48 am

In a novel, Mrs Ferrars is dead, but a character says:

-Why on earth should Mrs Ferrars wish to commit suicide?

To refer to a past thing, we use SHOULD HAVE DONE STH; to refer to a dead person, we should use the past tense; so why is the tense: SHOULD MRS FERRARS HAVE WISHED?
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Re: why on earth should Mrs Ferrars wish to commit suicide?

Postby Alan » Mon Jun 17, 2013 3:20 am

Normally, yes, but in this case the speaker is clearly imagining the past situation as a present one for dramatic effect (cf. the use of the historic present).
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