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Catalog of the Shakespeare Art Collection  --  Watercolors of Shakespearean Characters 
~ Bastards, Frauds & Tellers of the Truth  ~


Philip Faulconbridge in King John by Hannah Tompkins
~~

PHILIP FAULCONBRIDGE in KING JOHN
by Hannah Tompkins
~~

Faulconbridge Watercolor by Hannah Tompkins

 

Faulconbridge was a character invented by Shakespeare and put into a so-called historical play. He is cast as the bastard son of King Richard, the Lion-Hearted, elder brother of John. (Historically, this would be highly improbable since Richard was' an alleged homosexual.) But Faulconbridge serves an important dramatic function and is therefore valid. He is a true man, in direct contrast to a base King; a contrast that confirms the poet's idea that human value should be based on quality not on title.

The Bastard is a Truth-Teller and doesn't miss a chance to sound off, usually in blunt and impudent terms. But he could get away with it, being as he was, young, handsome and well-endowed. His sword was as sharp and ready as his tongue, yet in no way did it compromise his honesty, integrity and loyalty.

In those days bastardy did not have the stigma attached to it as in other times. At most, bastards were deprived of the inheritance of both property and titles. Their origins, however, were important factors in determining their attitudes and self-images.
Faulconbridge, when he learned who his real father was, was quite proud of his genetic heritage, for which he gladly surrendered his material one to his half-brother. Being the natural son of a hero-king, he could afford the outspoken, self-confident expressions of his condition:
"But whether I be as true begot, or no,
That still I lay upon my mother's head;
But that I am as well begot, my liege,- -
Fair fall the bones that took the pains for me."

"Near or far, well worn is still well shot,
And I am I, howe'er I was begot."   Act I  sc. i.


Copyright © 1982 Hannah Tompkins. All rights reserved.

 

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