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TOPIC: Fair fall the bones

Fair fall the bones 5 years 1 week ago #4742

What does the bastard mean in Act I Scene I when he says, "Fair fall the bones that took the pains for me!"?
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Fair fall the bones 5 years 6 days ago #4744

  • rusty
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that's a tough one - It's an aside within the sentence where he discusses his parentage. I would hazzard a guess that it is a recognition that he has the noble appearance that Richard had. i look forward to hearing other interpretations. What's your instinct on this?

rus
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Fair fall the bones 5 years 6 days ago #4745

He is either talking about his mother, Robert Faulconbridge, or Richard Coeur de Lion. I think he is talking about his mother. Robert Faulconbridge probably wouldn’t have been thrilled with his cuckoldry although I am sure he would have suffered pains for it. He may have taken out his anger and shame on his wife. I’m sure she would have suffered repercussions for the infidelity. Had Sir Robert been a good kind father to the bastard then it may have been him who the line was referring to. I don’t think so though because he was just referring to his mother two lines previous.
I don’t think it was Richard who the line refers to. Richard only received pleasure from the consummation. That seems to have been the extent of his involvement with his bastard son. Although, in the line previous the bastard states ‘But that I am as well-begot, my liege, -“. He was begotten by Richard. Where his brother was begotten by a squire, the bastard was begotten by a king.
I think he is just saying, 'My mother, may she rest in peace, her life was the more difficult because of me'.

That still I lay upon my mother’s head;
But that I am as well-begot, my liege,—
Fair fall the bones that took the pains for me!—
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Fair fall the bones 5 years 6 days ago #4747

It's most commonly interpreted as his father, though you could certainly make the case for pains on both parental sides.
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Fair fall the bones 5 years 6 days ago #4748

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Saw this the other day, didn't have time to put in my 2 cents. Interesting, the complexity of possibilities and possibility of complexities re: its meanings.

Feel free to take, in a literal sense, as much or little of this as you like, keeping in mind that Shakespeare wasn't shy when it came to the bawdy reference-doubling and tripling them along with the more 'legitimate' meanings.

Partridge's Shakespeare's Bawdy defines it: "fall" as a woman's yielding to sexual advances, as in 'fall off a tree', to fall from virtue, etc. Emilia speaking of infidelity: But I do think it is their husband's fault, if wives do fall...Othello 4.3.97-98

Crystal's glossary: fall a sin, trespass, falling-from desertion, defection. bones body, physique, bodily frame.
A bone-ache (or pains, if you will) pains from venereal disease. They also define the passage in question as meaning: man, person. Bastard, of his father, to King John.

"taking the pains" is rich in multiplicity as well. It could refer to taking the pains of labor, childbirth, the pain of bearing the weight in a sexual encounter, the pain of unrelieved male excitation (failure to take off or relieve (as in what a cuckolding might create), Nurse: I'll take him down, [double meaning] an 'a were lustier [double meaning] than he is, and twenty such Jacks [double meaning--is she imagining herself as "Jill"?]-- R&J 2.3.152-54; take literally "hit", "strike"; a common way to refer to an action-- either male or female-- in a sexual act, depending upon the point of view.

All of that being said, I would imagine that as rich with possible puns as this passage is, the reader (or the actor and director) should make the decisions. Certainly some might be viewed as gratuitous, some might be informative. But the references are extant and documented.
As I write, I see a new comment from "shakespeare": quote: "It's most commonly interpreted as his father, though you could certainly make the case for pains on both parental sides."

I think maybe I just did that-- in more ways than one :)
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Fair fall the bones 5 years 5 days ago #4750

I didnt even think to check Partridge. That makes sense. But I believe the last word is later in the scene, when John pronounces judgement on the case. He proposes a question to Robert about Richard....

Tell me, how if my brother,
Who, as you say, took pains to get this son,
Had of your father claim'd this son for his?

It seems to me that along with the Partridge definitions makes plain who and what the bastard was talking about.
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Fair fall the bones 4 years 11 months ago #4759

My own opinion is that it's a bit simpler than that-- if "fall" is taken to ="befall" (as in "it so fell out"), then the bastard is pronouncing a blessing on the man who begot him-- whoever that man might be. (Coeur-de-lion hasn't arisen as a possibility yet, but it's clear that Philip already has doubts about his own legitimacy.) It sounds to me something like ("rest in peace, whoever was the man who's responsible for my being here"-- with "pains" ironic for the "labor" of sleeping with Mom. It seems unlikely to refer to his mother, since "bones" implies the blessing is directed at someone who's already died.
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