(For Writer's Island, ABC Wednesday, Magpie 57 and Sunday Scribblings)
Shure, and what with the celebration of the shamrock so close, I got to thinking of the Irish in Shakespeare.
For example, there’s Captain Macmorris.
You see, I’ve always thought that of all the kings Will Shakespeare wrote about, and he wrote about a lot of ‘em, Henry the Fifth was the one he admired most.
Hank the Cinq represented what our playwright thought a monarch should be: wise, courageous, patriotic, daring, you name it – and of course he was the hero of what was possibly then the greatest military success in the history of England, the Battle of Agincourt.
To change the subject for just a moment, you remember all those movies about World War II, whenever they showed the crew of, say, an American bomber, the crew would be made up of one guy from Brooklyn, one from the Deep South, one from way out West, along with maybe a stoic New Englander. The idea of course was to show that all these various types, though very different, were inseparable when it came to fighting for freedom.
Well, Our Will did the same thing in the play “Henry V.” He features a few soldiers on the field who represent the main groups who made up the King’s army. There’s Fluellen, from Wales; Jamy, from Scotland; Macmorris, from Ireland; and of course Gower, the Englishman.
They’re always arguing and disputing – they’re soldiers, after all – but Shakespeare makes sure they're also inseparable when it comes to the battle.
In the play, they’re engaged in the part of the great battle that had to do with mining. You see, when you were laying siege to a fortress or anything that was strongly held, for centuries a common military strategy would be to dig underneath to put an explosive device under the place and blow it up.
The device was called a “petard.” If it blew up before you got it in place, you were “hoist by your own petard,” which is where that phrase came from.
Well, it’s Captain Macmorris, of all the group, who’s upset that the mining work is not going well. He believes that everyone is standing around talking, arguing, and no one is really doing their job.
Macmorris: “By Chrish’ law, tis ill done! I could have blown it up in an hour! It is no time to discourse. The trumpets call us to the breach, and yet we talk, and be Chrish, do nothing!”
(Shakespeare was not noted for his accuracy as far as Irish brogues were concerned. :-) )
But it’s kind of interesting that it’s the Irisher who shows the real dedication and expertise in the operation they’re all involved in.
Top o’ the morn to ye, Captain Macmorris!
1 year ago