Tuesday, April 12, 2011

[For Sunday Scribblings and ABC Wednesday]
“M” is for “Mamillius”
The little kid with the funny name…

He’s very much like other boys his age. He likes to horse around, play games, tell ghost stories, etc. He’s featured in the play, “The Winter’s Tale.”
But there’s something special about this youngster, one of the most appealing characters ever created by Will Shakespeare: he’s a prince. His mom and dad are the King and Queen (only not in that order.) 

As princeling, he has two ladies-in-waiting assigned to be in charge of him. Naturally, he stands up to them.
First Lady
“Come, my gracious lord,
Shall I be your playfellow?”
“No, I'll none of you.”
First Lady
Why, my sweet lord?”
“You'll kiss me and speak to me as if
I were a baby still.”
Like most other young dudes of his age, he didn’t much care to have everyone kissing him and treating him as though he was still a toddler.
But Mamillius’ story is really a tragedy.
His mom and dad are constantly fighting. The King has charged the Queen with adultery – of which she is entirely innocent. This is serious stuff. If a queen is guilty of adultery, she has by law committed treason, which is punishable by death.
His dysfunctional family, the constant rows, take their toll on the youngster. His health is affected.

By the way, we should add that his father, though certainly not much as a husband, dearly loves his son.
But when the King throws his wife in prison and refuses to let Mamillius see his dear mother, the young prince becomes ill and dies. The monarch laments his poor judgment and promises to grieve for his dead son every day for the rest of his life.
So, it’s a Shakespeare tragedy. But there’s something else that's probably there by design, something that makes the sad story of Mamillius fascinating.
We remember that Shakespeare’s own son also died as a child. We can’t help wondering if Our Will had his boy in mind when he wrote of the death of the young prince.
I have always felt he was thinking of his dead son when he wrote these heart-breaking lines:
Fills the room up of my absent child,
Lies in his bed,
Walks up and down with me,
Repeats his words,
Remembers me of all his gracious parts,
My fair son! My all the world!”


mrsnesbitt said...

Such a moving, powerful contribution - thanks so much for bringing Shakespeare to a new level of understanding.

ABC Team

Áine Tierney said...

I'm doing the A-Z, you seem to have one going of your own. I've never read A Winter's Tale, but this post makes me curious.

Meryl said...

How beautifully retold! I love visiting these posts - thank you!

Leslie: said...

I have not read this particular piece by Shakespeare, but it sounds fascinating. A morality tale in which we, today, may find more than one lesson. You're probably correct that old Will had his own son in mind when he wrote this and is not only grieving the loss, but perhaps also the way in which he treated his own son. The loss of a child must be one of the absolute worst tragedy of all - I know the loss of my spouse, and cannot imagine any grief worse than that. Pray God I never know it.

jabblog said...

Shakespeare was such an acute observer of his fellow man. I wonder what great works he would write in these troubled times.
Indeed it sounds as though he was thinking of his son when he wrote those heartfelt words.

Roger Owen Green said...

I'm reading a lot about grief; it's quite powerful.
Great telling of the tale.
ROG, ABC Wednesday team

Tumblewords: said...

It makes good sense that he personalized that portion of the tale. Well told.

Hildred said...

A very sad tale, - the loss of a child is so grievous.

jlshall said...

Winter's Tale has always been one of my favorite Shakespeare plays, but I've never seen it performed. What a wonderful, though sad, post for "M" day.
~Joy @ Joysweb

shydub said...

what a touching piece

ds said...

Oh, how sad (clearly haven't read "The Winter's Tale") and how beautifully poignant those lines. Thank you for sharing this.

Steve Isaak said...

Good, heartfelt - not in a cheap Reader's Digest way - piece. Effective work.

Berowne said...

sharplittlepencil (http://sharplittlepencil.wordpress.com/) has left a new comment on your post "For ABC Wednesday":

Berowne, as always, I learn something from you every time I stop by your blog. This is an incredibly detailed analysis of Shakespeare - not only his work is included, but details of his personal life.

Thanks so much, B. Poor little kid... Amy

Unknown said...

Mamillius' tale retold so well! I hope you taught a Shakespeare course as well as film -- lucky students, if you did.

Annie Jeffries said...

How terribly sad. I have not read this particular Shakespeare play.

Jae Rose said...

This is a sad one Berowne..but as the others say touching..I imagine we all write what we know..even Will! Jae

Kodjo Deynoo said...

Yes you see, an honest feeling in the writer, poets all write on emotion, and this is a perfect example where emotions are drawn

Anonymous said...

What a gift! Thank you, A Winter's Tale is one of my favorites!

Old Egg said...

What a treat it is to visit your blog. Not only is it beautifully designed but the content is such that the reader is always enriched by the content.

Reflections said...

I'd forgotten this tale by Will... wonderful sharing of the tale, as always.

linda may said...

Mr S was definitely a keen observer of human nature. Poor little rich boy.

Berowne said...

oldegg: "What a treat it is to visit your blog."
What a treat it is to get comments like yours. :-)

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