Leprechaun Studies 101-Part Two
In which I enlist the help of my trusty Shakespeare Encyclopaedia to dissect selected Shakespeare plays and sonnets (I ain’t going to do them all, we’d be here all week) and explain how they have a link to leprechauns.
Before I get into today’s analysis, I would like to correct something I said yesterday. I said Lady Antebellum is the twenty-first century equivalent of Shakespeare; I meant to say the twenty-first century equivalent of Shakespeare, but with music. Cause, you know, they sing and play instruments. Possibly there is dancing involved, but I have yet to see them live in concert, so I cannot verify this. Should someone confirm or negate, I will proceed accordingly.
Anyway. That out of the way, I shall start analyzing.
Oh. Before I forget, I will point out that I firmly do not believe that crap about how Sir Francis Bacon or any other dude wrote the stuff attributed to Shakespeare. I am sure there is someone who does believe it, and that is fine, but I have no qualms about reciting Shakespeare’s works aloud until I lose my voice because someone tells me he did not write anything. (Does anyone else see a pattern here? Raise your hand if you do.) Also, I feel the need to point out that there are around 80 known ways to spell Shakespeare. If I feel like it, and I most likely will because this is Shakespeare we’re talking about, I will touch on this later.
As I mentioned yesterday, leprechauns were first sired in around 1600, when Shakespeare first picked up a quill-thingy to write. They gave him the ideas to write plays based on historic stuff, like various kings, but also to create fictional tragedies like Romeo and Juliet, or fictional comedies. Basically, they inspired him all the way to the last thing he wrote-I can’t remember what it was, but they were there for him 24/7. Shakespeare, born in April, had twelve leprechauns, as per the formula I created yesterday. They gave him the ideas, which while not new, did have their differences to other stuff. Also, his leprechauns read the hell out of ancient mythology, which helped immensely. (Many leprechauns adore mythology)
Romeo and Juliet, for instance. We all know it to be a play about how two teenagers meet, fall in love and marry. Then, Juliet fakes her death, and ultimately they both die for real. What you don’t see though, is the leprechaun aspect.
Put simply, Romeo is from a well-known, well-respected family of humans. Juliet however, is from a family of leprechauns. Fifty years before either was born, the families were at war. Ultimately, it ended in Juliet’s great-great-grandfather killing Romeo’s great-great-grandfather: hence the enmity between the families. Each family could only manage to agree on one thing: that they would never bring their families together through marriage or political alliance, or any other uniting factor. Because they were fickle, they managed to agree on a second thing: both families wanted to be powerful, and if one couldn’t be more so than the other, they would be equally powerful. By forbidding marriage between the two families, their intent was to prevent the creation of the humanlep: a human/leprechaun hybrid, which even at birth would be more powerful than a full-grown adult human or leprechaun.
However, they failed to make their children aware of this, assuming they had no need to impart this knowledge. Juliet was being home schooled in preparation for eventually becoming a wife and mother; Romeo was readying for the army. Supposedly, the two would never have cause to meet.
Of course, no-one ever banked on Romeo and friends being so bored they would crash a party Juliet’s family was hosting, which we all know is where they meet and fall in love. Anyway, they fell in love not knowing about the grudge between their families, and this is where Paris comes in: Paris was written into the play as king of the leprechauns, a ploy by Shakespeare to give himself a little extra credit and appeal more to the leprechauns he looked after. Bear in mind, this is 500 years before Lady Antebellum. He was just doing his best to keep the leprechauns happy. Paris being king of the leprechauns is precisely why Juliet’s parents wanted her to marry him, and why they were so furious when she refused. Romeo’s humanness is exactly why she couldn’t tell her parents about new hubby Romeo, otherwise there would have started an entirely new battle between the families.
(A side note: this new battle that could have started was the literary kind. Each family appointed a Speaker to recite works selected by an ancient author. The first Speaker to lose their breath and keel over lost, forfeiting to the other. This battle would have involved reciting passages in Greek or Latin from Homer’s Odyssey.)
Naturally, this created all kinds of problems and schemes for the newlyweds. When they should have been honeymooning, they were creating complex schemes to deceive people-Sir Walter Scott disapproves.
The play ends with their deaths and their families burying the hatchet-literally. Juliet’s father appoints an elf to create a Bona Fide Hatchet and dig a forty-foot deep hole. Then, the elf hurls the hatchet to the bottom of the hole, and the secret closing scenes are of each member of the family hurling dirt onto the hatchet and dancing around the hole.
The closing scene we see is in place to show the tragedy, because leprechauns were a revolutionary topic, and Shakespeare didn’t want to get laughed out of town for writing about them.
Othello is the second play to show leprechauns. The basic story is, Desdemona lies to her dad to run off and marry Othello, and Iago is a jealous sod who ruins it all. BUT, the secret leprechaun is Iago-Othello and Desdemona are humans.
After they get married, Iago goes to her dad to rat them out about how they are “making the beast with two backs”, which shows his level of jealousy-how the hell does he know what they’re doing? Possibly, he is stalking them.
As we saw with Romeo and Juliet, Shakespeare has no problems with human/leprechaun marriages. Iago’s jealousy stems from the fact that he is a leprechaun who wants a human woman, and so he decides to ruin everything. It must be said that he is the best character in the play, as he knows what he wants and how to get it. Dude is a skilful manipulator, but got bored of trying to manipulate leprechauns-turns out, leprechauns can’t be manipulated. Anyway, his jealousy is combined with his boredom. There haven’t been any good intellectual battles recently, and so he decides to prove his intellect.
Also, he is operating under the if-I-can’t-have-her-no-one-can thing. This is why he encourages Othello to kill Desdemona, rather than try to talk it out and smooth things over. One of the secret scenes Shakespeare doesn’t show is Iago, dancing with glee as things go his way-right around the time Othello confronts Desdemona about the Strawberry-Spotted Hanky. I might add that the strawberry handkerchief is deeply significant for a leprechaun: leprechauns love strawberries and anything strawberry related. Fridge magnets, pens, desk lamps, stickers, you name it, if it exists they’ll buy it.
Leprechauns are intelligent souls, which shows how he is able to manipulate so well. One thing we don’t see is his Secret Opinion of Desdemona or Othello-honestly, he thinks they’re both rather wimpy. After all, Othello follows him blindly, without ever questioning him, and Desdemona is no better. (Which raises the question, why is he so jealous when they marry?)
Also, Cassio is given the position Iago covets. Insult, meet injury. His supposed best mate just took off and married a woman he quite fancies, and doesn’t get the promotion he wants. Poor old Iago, you might expect him to slink away and lick his wounds. That, my dears, is why we cheer when instead he comes out FIGHTING.
In having the ending Othello-the play that is, not the character-does, Shakespeare is showing how people might react to the leprechauns. Like I said, it was a revolutionary topic, and I will go into further detail later.
Macbeth is an equally awesome play, but more complicated. We know that Macbeth receives prophecies that he will be king, and that he and his power-hungry wife will stop at nothing to get there.
There are witches involved, for the love of Dave Haywood! You might think that is enough awesome, but no. You think Shakespeare is going to zig-he bloody ZAGS. The leprechauns in this play are there secretly. You know when the witches are huddling over the cauldron, calling on Hecate and fussing with eye of newt and whatnot? That is where the leprechauns come in, but secretly. See, the leprechauns sit by the cauldron in front of the fire. Their role is a big one: they prompt the witches’ chants to ensure the witches don’t forget, and they give each ingredient to the witches as it is mentioned.
After all, it really screws up the spell if you don’t put the ingredients together in the proper order. In a secret scene, the witches were supposed to first put in vinegar and then a lock of hair and then salt. Unfortunately, they did it salt, vinegar, lock of hair. Totally wrong. The result should have been a pizza-instead, it was a dictionary of twenty-first century. You see what I mean about how the spell gets screwed up-those witches got a little slice of twenty-first century stuff, in the seventeenth century.
This was when they decided they were better off to write it all down, and call on leprechauns to ensure no more mistakes. Rookie mistakes, in this case, meant they wasted their ingredients.
This isn’t the only time leprechauns feature in Macbeth. When Lady M. is encouraging her hubby to stick with it all, telling him “screw up your courage to the sticking place and you‘ll not fail“, the leprechauns are putting the thoughts into her head. Which, she should be pretty grateful for. Otherwise, she would have just gone straight into nagging him, and run out of steam halfway-the leprechauns analyzed the situation and gave her ammunition to properly get her point across.
Then, you have The Sonnets.
I shall only refer to a few of my favourites.
Sonnet 116, for instance. My absolute favourite. Just to clarify, it starts “Let me not to the marriage of true minds Admit impediment.” You can read the rest for yourself, somewhere online, because I am using it as a Case In Point to show leprechauns. By the way, it basically means that he doesn’t want to concede that if he were arguing a point, he would be wrong. BUT, he doesn’t want to admit this to a leprechaun. Frankly, can you blame him? Picture it: he is sitting in Ye Olde Pub with a leprechaun, arguing about true love. Each thinks they are right. He doesn’t want to then say to the leprechaun, okay mate, you are right and I am talking a load of nonsense. So, he comes out with this impressive-sounding guff as a stalling tactic: he wants to confuse the leprechaun, during which time he hopes to come up with a winning argument. The catch being, that he doesn’t want to bow to what the leprechaun says.
Sonnet 29. My second favourite. “When in disgrace with fortune and men’s eyes, I all alone beweep my outcast state”. Basically, he’s an outcast and the only one who is sorrowful over this state of affairs. Dude doesn’t have money, maybe he’s in debt, and people don’t look at him kindly-probably this means his reputation is shot.
Look at when he first mentions “thee”. Like I said before, you can read it for yourself. Anyway, the thee he addresses is a leprechaun. He thinks of the leprechaun fondly, and his troubles don’t seem quite so bad. Sweet really, he finishes by saying how he might be broke, but the leprechaun’s love brings him happiness-wealth to rival a king, and in fact he would laugh at a king’s offer to swap lives. Not that a king would offer, because most likely, he wouldn’t have reason to. You get the picture.
Sonnet 56. “Sweet love, renew thy force, be it no said Thy edge should blunter be than appetite”. Simply, the leprechaun doesn’t seem to love him anymore. So, he is hoping that somehow the love will renew itself and pick up again, better than before. Clearly, he loves the leprechaun, or he wouldn’t bother.
This sonnet is good in that way, but lazy. He is hoping the leprechaun will read it, and then return to him. However, he doesn’t seem to consider that the leprechaun might not read it. What if the leprechaun sees it but ignores it in favour of something more fun? Realistically, if he wants a result, what he should do is have the sonnet published in the newspaper, then send a few copies to the leprechaun. Cover all the bases, ya know?
Briefly, leprechauns do also feature in performances of the plays. When performing Macbeth, considered the cursed play, leprechauns would be often around to pre-empt anyone who might utter the M word. Other roles included making sure all props were in place and raising or lowering the curtains as needed.
I mentioned the 80 spellings of Shakespeare. The reason for this is brief: the leprechauns suggested he experiment with the spelling to decide which looked coolest for autographs and which looked best on the official copy of the plays.
Finally, leprechauns were a revolutionary topic for anyone to write about. That Shakespeare chose to do so was a brave move: he easily could have been laughed out of town. This explains why his leprechaun scenes are Secret ones, rather than explicit. Additionally, he knew he was the first to have leprechauns in his service, which he wanted to protect. If he wrote about anyone being a leprechaun, odds are others would have begun hounding him with hundreds of questions:
What are leprechauns? Why do you have a team of them? Where can I get one/some?
And so on.
Shakespeare though, he was a wise dude. He knew how people react to new things, so rather than being explicit about the leprechauns, decided to be implicit about them. This way, he got to be loyal to them, but he also wouldn’t be ridiculed for it. Besides, once he knew how people reacted to leprechauns, he got to bask in the Smug Rightness of predicting something correctly.
Tomorrow, I shall zip forward 500 years into this century, and discuss their relationship to Lady Antebellum.