A legendary figure colloquially known as Mr Punch.

The background of this shady character, who represents the untameable aspect of masculine personality, is betrayed by his name. He originates from Italy, where people called him Punchinello because he uses the word pulcino, meaning ‘chicken’, as an endearment.

Short, deformed, hook-nosed, boastful and arrogant, he has strutted through history for generations. During his lengthy career he has been cuddled by the Queen of Sheba and has rode horse with St George. These and other notable people must have known his true character but possibly they saw him as the true symbol of mortal man. Like many other men he is frequently in trouble because of his arrogant stupidity but, also like other men, he squirms out of it with a blend of lies, trickery and force.

His only true friend is his dog Toby, which is unperturbed by his knavery. His long-suffering wife, Judy, tries to reform him despite frequent beatings and he regards their baby as a hindrance. He often tries to throw it away but it always returns.

Greedy, drunken, lustful and immoral, he has often been in trouble with the police and has even faced the gallows but at the last moment he tricked Jack Ketch into releasing him. Despite his failings he is not without courage and he has fought with crocodiles, dragons and other monsters.

Punchinello has travelled far and wide within Britain and Europe and has even visited the Americas, where his coarse humour, violent treatment of women, and contempt for authority have made him much admired.

Nobody is too great for him to lampoon and his favoured stage, a small brightly coloured tent, is still a popular attraction at seaside resorts and fairs for both adults and children.

Pun`chi*nel"lo (?), n. [It. pulcinella, probably originally a word of endearment, dim. of pulcina, pulcino, a chicken, from L. pullicenus, pullus. See Pullet.]

A punch; a buffoon; originally, in a puppet show, a character represented as fat, short, and humpbacked.



© Webster 1913.

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