OF THE BABY NAME PRINCE
Marina is a character in William Shakespeare’s play, Pericles, Prince of Tyre, thought to be written around 1606/08, and believed to be a work of shared authorship. Marina is the beautiful and virtuous daughter of Pericles and his wife, Thaisa. She was born at sea during an awful storm; her mother, Thaisa, appears to have died in childbirth, and it is thought Marina the infant will not survive the journey back to Tyre. Pericles leaves her in Tarsus with the king and queen who raise her. This is where things really start to go south for Marina. Because she is more beautiful than the royal daughter, her guardian-mother plots to have Marina killed. That plot is thwarted by a group of pirates who kidnap her and sell her into prostitution. The chaste Marina, however, remains so, and persuades all her potential “customers” to leave her to her virtue. Eventually, Marina becomes a tutor for young children. Well, this kind of goodness might be its own reward, but luckily, there’s more. Pericles, who has been told she is dead, is in deep mourning. His friend, Lysimachus, the governor of Mytilene, believes that Marina would be able to cheer him up, and puts them together. This potentially explosive situation is all put to rest – Marina and Pericles are happily reunited, off they go to find Thaisa, who really wasn’t dead, and Marina gets to marry Lysimachus. We may have stretched the convention of coincidence just a wee bit, but, hey, this is Shakespeare.
Well, we all know who “The Prince” is, don’t we? Little girls learn about him at a young age. He is, first and foremost, charming. He is handsome, tall, noble, courteous, romantic and rich. He has a castle or two in Once Upon A Time Land. He rides a white horse. He saves maidens and marries them. He is responsible for all that “happily ever after” stuff that dreams are made of. Naturally, this character has taken quite a hit in the post-modern feminist era, and he has been subject to a wealth of revisionist re-tellings of his tale. Today, damsels in distress are hard to find, wicked witches are almost extinct, mean stepmothers go to family counseling, ugly stepsisters get plastic surgery, little people have unionized, fairy godmothers aren’t female and apples are organically grown. What’s a self-respecting prince to do? It’s hard to find work in such a world. Nonetheless, we venture to guess that many little girls still secretly keep that dashing man alive in their dreams, but they probably cast themselves in the role of rescuer, rather than the other way around. Whatever works – either way, it’s still a great and, well, charming, story line.
Philip is Sleeping Beauty’s prince – that handsome, charming fellow created by Walt Disney Studies in the 1959 animated film, based upon Charles Perrault’s 17th century fairy tale, itself based upon common folk lore. In the Disney film, he is called Prince Philip because of most Americans’ familiarity with then young Queen Elizabeth II’s husband, Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh. Prince Philip has been betrothed to Princess Aurora since her birth, but they have never met. A wicked fairy has put a curse on the baby princess that by her sixteenth birthday, she will prick her finger on a spinning wheel and die. Aurora’ s three good fairy godmothers do their best to offset the curse by mitigating it – instead of dying, she will fall into a deep sleep – and they spirit her off to the woods to hide her. You know the drill – Philip and Aurora meet in the woods, he thinking she is a peasant girl, and they fall in love. Bad fairy returns to lure Aurora away and produces a spinning wheel for her evil purposes. Philip goes to battle against Bad Fairy and prevails, finally placing the winning kiss on Aurora’s cold lips. Voila! They live happily ever after, of course. Until post-modern feminism got its hands on the legend. We get it – young women should not be fooling around with domestic appliances like spinning wheels, and all-women communities in the woods are good. If a young woman should fall asleep, it’s probably because she needs the rest, and she doesn’t need any tights-clad prince to kiss her awake, thank you. As for settling scores with bad fairies, she can do that by herself, too. But – but – but – somewhere in little girls’ DNA lives an insatiable appetite for these tales, so enjoy it while it lasts. Hail Prince Philip!