Person of the Week: Mr. Punch

Monday, May 9, 2011


He has been known as many things: a loveable rascal, a rogue, a murderer, an adulterer, an innocent, a father, a husband, an abuser, a friend and foe of animals, a sausage-maker, an ornery neighbor, a scamp, an imp, a national icon and an international celebrity. He’s Mr. Punch. And, today is his 349th birthday.

No, he’s not technically a person, but he’s an enduring personality who has been repeatedly brought to life by thousands of artists all over the world for centuries. Throughout the past few months, we’ve explored Mr. Punch’s history—from his Italian roots, to his “birth” in England’s Covent Garden to his many cousins worldwide. This plucky puppet has inspired countless literary works (including Punch’s Cousin), a magazine named in his honor, grand works of art and humble folk arts. Interestingly enough, he’s risen above his origins to become something of a symbol of Britain and the people who inhabit it. He gets away with the things that we all wish we could do. He beats the devil! He triumphs over his problems! And, he does it all with a great amount of confidence and humor.

We shouldn’t really consider Mr. Punch to be a role model. Some of his behavior is quite questionable. But, we do have to admire his attitude and we can all adapt some of his unrelenting spirit into our own lives. He’s the best and the worst part of each of us—represented in figures of wood and felt. He encourages us to be the puppeteers of our own lives and to always be prepared to say, “Huzzah, I beat the Devil.”

For his 349 years of entertainment and enlightenment and for becoming more than the wooden-headed hunchback that first appeared in Covent Garden, Mr. Punch is our “Person of the Week.” Or, at the very least, “The Puppet of the Week.”

Happy Birthday, Mr. Punch. ads

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