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Home :: Archive :: 2002 :: March ::
Re: Mamillius' Age
The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 13.0676  Wednesday, 6 March 2002

[1]     From:   Larry Weiss <
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        Date:   Tuesday 05 Mar 2002 13:05:50 -0500
        Subj:   Re: SHK 13.0664 Mamillius' Age

[2]     From:   Bruce Young <
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        Date:   Tuesday 05 Mar 2002 12:05:13 -0700
        Subj:   Re: SHK 13.0664 Mamillius' Age

[3]     From:   Clifford Stetner <
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        Date:   Tuesday 5 Mar 2002 15:27:13 -0500
        Subj:   Re: SHK 13.0664 Mamillius' Age

[4]     From:   Clifford Stetner <
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        Date:   Tuesday 5 Mar 2002 21:13:46 -0500
        Subj:   Re: SHK 13.0664 Mamillius' Age



[1]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Larry Weiss <
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Date:           Tuesday 05 Mar 2002 13:05:50 -0500
Subject: 13.0664 Mamillius' Age
Comment:        Re: SHK 13.0664 Mamillius' Age

I am tempted to say that Mamillius is precisely as old as the actor who
plays him, but that is too facile.  It is likely that the same actor
doubled as Perdita, who is sixteen when she first appears in a speaking
part.  But Mamillius strikes me as substantially younger -- somewhere
around six.  So, it is likely that the boy actor could play both a boy
child and a teenage girl. I suspect that the actor was somewhere in
between.

[2]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Bruce Young <
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Date:           Tuesday 05 Mar 2002 12:05:13 -0700
Subject: 13.0664 Mamillius' Age
Comment:        Re: SHK 13.0664 Mamillius' Age

The short answer to the question of Mamillius's age would be "about
five."  Here's a longer answer, taken from notes I made when I helped
with a college production of _The Winter's Tale_ a few years ago:

Leontes is 23 years older than his son Mamillius (1.2.155); his son's
age is not specified, but he is "unbreech'd" (line 155)--that is, too
young to wear men's clothes.  The age of breeching was between 5 and 7
("never," writes Maynard Mack, "later than 7"; the new Arden says "about
7").  There are hints in the play Mamillius may be 5-6: if Florizel is
about 21 in the second half of the play--as Leontes hints in
5.1.126--then the passage of 15-16 years would have made Florizel 5-6 in
the play's first half; Mamillius would be the same age, since he and
Florizel were born within a month of each other (5.1.116-18).  But it
has been argued that Mamillius is 10 (the old Arden?), but I don't see
any evidence for this later age (except maybe the fact that Shakespeare
had lost his 11-year-old son Hamnet in 1596, about 15 years--possibly
less-- before writing _The Winter's Tale_).  Other hints about
Mamillius' age include his "cuteness" and his association with the women
of the court (arguing he is younger?--Mack says that "by 10"--probably
earlier--"he would no longer be in the care of women"), his brightness
and articulate speech (arguing he is older?--but Shakespeare's child
characters are often precocious), and his saying he doesn't want to be
treated like "a baby still" (2.1.6), suggesting that he is in a period
of transition from early childhood (and identification with the women)
to later childhood (and identification with men).

The reference to Maynard Mack is to his International Shakespeare
Association paper "Rescuing Shakespeare."  My references to the "new"
and "old" Arden are dated now, and I haven't double-checked for exact
information on editions and page numbers.  But it should be pretty easy
to track down the details.

Bruce Young

[3]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Clifford Stetner <
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Date:           Tuesday 5 Mar 2002 15:27:13 -0500
Subject: 13.0664 Mamillius' Age
Comment:        Re: SHK 13.0664 Mamillius' Age

I don't think his exact age is determined. There are however some clues.
He seems to be 23 years younger than Leontes:

LEONTES ...looking on the lines
     Of my boy's face, methoughts I did recoil
     Twenty-three years, and saw myself unbreech'd,
     ...How like, methought, I then was to this kernel,
     This squash, this gentleman.

He might be about the same age as Florizel who marries the 16 year old
Perdita 16 years later:

LEONTES : ...My brother,
     Are you so fond of your young prince as we
     Do seem to be of ours?

He's old enough to resent being treated like a baby:

MAMILLIUS:  No, I'll none of you.
First Lady: Why, my sweet lord?
MAMILLIUS: You'll kiss me hard and speak to me as if I were a baby
still.

And he's old enough to comment on female vanity:

MAMILLIUS: ...black brows, they say,
     Become some women best, so that there be not
     Too much hair there, but in a semicircle
     Or a half-moon made with a pen.
Second Lady: Who taught you this?
MAMILLIUS:  I learnt it out of women's faces.

Clifford

[4]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Clifford Stetner <
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Date:           Tuesday 5 Mar 2002 21:13:46 -0500
Subject: 13.0664 Mamillius' Age
Comment:        Re: SHK 13.0664 Mamillius' Age

A couple of more clues:

Paulina says 5.1.115:

Had our prince,
Jewel of children, seen this hour, he had pair'd
Well with this lord; there was not full a month
Between their births.

Leontes says to Florizel 126:

Were I but twenty-one,
Your father's image is so hit in you
(His very air) that I should call you brother,
As I did him, and speak of something wildly
By us perform'd before.

These might imply an age for Florizel as 21, making Mamillius and he 5
in Act I.  Furthermore, if Florizel and Perdita produce a son two years
after their marriage, Florizel would be the same age as Leontes at
Mammillius birth. Although Polixenes has already said such another as
Perdita shall not be born in her father's house these 7 years, this
might refer to a daughter born when Florizel is 28, which, if Mammillius
is 5 in Act I and there are 23 years between them, would be 28 and the
same age as Leontes at the birth of Perdita which would be in keeping
with the various other symmetries of the play.

Clifford

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