OF THE BABY NAME MICHAEL
Michael Corleone is the youngest son in Mario Puzo’s 1969 bestseller, The Godfather, and is inextricably entwined with the performances of Al Pacino in the three Francis Ford Coppola movies based on it. Michael is the son of Don Vito Corleone, who has destined him for legitimacy, hoping to see him aspire to a governorship or to the Senate. Michael at first seems to be following this path obediently, serving bravely in the military in World War II, and courting a WASP girlfriend. The grand plan is sabotaged, however, when his older brother is killed, his father is forced into retirement and his other brother, Alfredo, is useless in the business. As Michael takes on the mantle of the capo, he shows himself to be to the manor born. He executes the duties of his office with a cold and ruthless determination, sparing neither family nor friend when he deems it expedient. At the end of his bloody career, he fruitlessly strives to regain a measure of self-respect, buying his way into papal awards and distributing his vast wealth to charity. It is too little, too late, however, and Michael pays dearly for the consequences of his sins. He dies alone, having driven off most of his family and friends and having seen his daughter, the most important person in the world to him, killed as a direct result of his nefarious dealings. “For the wages of sin is death…”
In Christian tradition (and to some extent in Jewish and Islamic cultures), Michael is one of the great princes of heaven, a leader in the army of God and good against the evil forces of Satan and his minions. Since his overthrow and banishment from the heavens, Satan continues the campaign for evil upon earth. Michael is also anticipated by Revelations as one who will herald the end of days and the rising of the righteous with the thundering of his trumpet. In spite of all this sword-wielding, Michael also carries the mantle of protector of the Jewish peoples, having appeared to the prophet Daniel, identifying himself as one who “stands up for the children of your people”. In addition, he is often looked to as a healer and consoler of the sick and dying, as well as being a guide to heaven for those souls preparing to meet their Maker. All in all, a good guy to have on your side!
Michael the Archangel as he appears in John Milton’s Paradise Lost is the messenger (and not a reluctant one) who arrives in the Garden of Eden to banish Adam and Eve from their erstwhile paradise. After The Fall, Michael is sent by God to alleviate the suffering of Adam and Eve; to do this, he puts Eve into a deep sleep and takes Adam to a mountaintop, where he shows him the future consequences of Adam and Eve’s sin – the suffering of all mankind for generations to come. Adam is chastised, but also hopeful for the future of his race through the intervention of heavenly redemption. Eve then awakens and tells Adam of her prophetic dream; together they are led out of the Garden of Eden by Michael into a new and uncharted land of suffering and potential redemption.
Michael Cassio is an important character in William Shakespeare’s tragedy, Othello, believed to have been written around 1603. Michael Cassio is a devoted lieutenant to Othello, the Moor. He is young and green, but high in Othello’s affections, even when he missteps, which makes him a prime candidate for Iago’s jealousy and malice. Attractive to women, Michael Casssio is something of a philosopher, as well as just a happy-go-lucky youth. He is light-hearted and rather cavalier in his flirtations with his mistress, Bianca; essentially, he is a young man with a young man’s fondness for pleasure. Enter Iago and his nefarious plots. Iago deliberately schemes to destroy Othello by planting clues to suggest that Michael Cassio is having an affair with Othello’s wife, Desdemona. Of course, this all leads to murder, rape and suicide (it being Shakespeare, after all), but in the end, Michael Cassio triumphs – Othello forgives him and asks for his forgiveness before his own suicide and ultimately, Michael Casio is given the greatest gift of all – the ability to determine his nemesis’ destiny – and knowing Michael Cassio as we do, we know he will deliver the finest punishment possible – one tempered with mercy.
Michael is the titular hero of Thomas Hardy’s 1886 novel, The Mayor of Casterbridge. Michael is, as so many, a victim of the demon rum. However, he goes a bit beyond the pale when, in a drunken state, he auctions off his wife and baby daughter to a stranger. Returning to his everyday life, Michael hides the truth of his burden from the townspeople, and swears never to touch liquor for twenty years. He is only forced to face the consequences of his actions when his wife and daughter innocently return to town to reclaim his patronage. Our Michael by that time has complicated things by being involved with another woman and by entrusting his story to an employee. The plot thickens: the employee falls in love with Michael’s daughter, the spurned fiancé sets her sights on the employee, and Michael finds himself up to his ears in conflict. Time to break out that old bottle of rum! After many plot twists, deaths, betrayals and reunions, Michael gets to die the death of the redeemed. In his final will and testimony he asks that he not be buried in consecrated ground and that no mourning be conducted on his behalf. We concur with his wishes.
Michael is the subject of a pastoral poem by William Wordsworth, first published in the 1800 edition of Lyrical Ballads. Michael is a shepherd who has lost most of his land through financial upsets, and sends his son, Luke, off as an apprentice to a merchant so that he might learn a trade and return to regain his father’s land. Luke, however, is corrupted by the life of the big city and ultimately must flee the country. His heart-broken father, Michael, is doomed to walk his acres without his son, knowing that he had sent him from the moral innocence of the land into the satanic clutches of the urban landscape. There he dies, in the bosom of the land, but far from the comforts of the bond with his beloved son.
Written by Rosemary Crawford, “Michael and Natasha” is both an astonishing love story and an illuminating look at the last glorious days of the Romanovs and the brutal revolution that ended their reign. Based on private diaries, letters, and documents long hidden in the Soviet archives, it sheds light on an extraordinary tale of enduring love and ultimate tragedy that, until now, has never been told. He was the Grand Duke Michael Aleksandrovich, the tall, dashing brother of Tsar Nicholas II. She was Nathalie Wulfert, a beautiful, elegant, intelligent, divorced commoner, and the wife of a Guards officer under Michael's command. Everything was wrong...yet for Grand Duke Michael, it was love at first sight-an obsession that would lead to disgrace, humiliation, and exile. Much of Michael and Natasha's story is told in their own words, through hundreds of hitherto unpublished letters. Here they reveal their passion, their joy, and their despair as they are banished from their own country, bathed in scandal in the courts of Europe, and forced to suffer cruel separation. But more than a love story, Michael and Natasha is a historical drama played out against the elegant background of a bygone age and a world at war. It is a spell-binding account of Michael's return to Russia, his reputation as a war hero, the downfall of Nicholas II, the strange and short reign of Grand Duke Michael, and the cruel and tragic end of one of the most colorful eras in world history.