King Machush And Lerner And Loewe’s King Arthur Provide Some Interesting Parallels

King Machush, the hero of Janusz Korczak’s Machush novels, and Lerner and Loewe’s King Arthur from their musical Camelot provide some interesting parallels.  Although King Machush is a child, and later adolescent, and King Arthur is an adult, both are kings that try to bring about reforms that will better their kingdoms.  Both kings have their tutors:  King Machush learns about parliament from the Melancholy King, and King Arthur learns about the natural world and its consequences from Merlin the Wizard.  Since the Melancholy King must take care of his own kingdom, Machush must make decisions on his own.  In King Arthur’s case, Merlin is abducted by Nimue to live “in a cave by a sapphire shore.”  Thus, his educational mentor has been taken away, and he is left to ponder his own decisions.  In both the Korczak children’s novels and in Camelot reform is not easy.  The Ministers oppose many of Machush’s reforms for children, and they arouse the ire and envy of other kings.  King Arthur comes to realize that what is important is not might is right, but might should be used for right.  Based on that conclusion, he forms the notion of his Knights of the Round Table.   Ultimately, both kings are destroyed by forces outside the kingdom and within the kingdom.  In Machush’s case, it is the newspaper reporter from the Young King’s realm that introduces anarchy to bring the ruler down.  Machush’s closest friend, Fellek, follows his own greed and selfish desires to betray and finally destroy Machush.  In King Arthur’s case, it is the arrival of Mordred, a kind of evil genius and Arthur’s abandoned son who causes ferment between the knights that breaks out in a war, destroying both Arthur and Mordred.  The illicit relationship between Queen Guenivere and Sir Lancelot serves to humiliate, and, eventually, destroy Arthur.  In both King Machush’s and King Arthur’s situations, passions interfere with the heroes’ rational intentions.

A Reversal Of Eden In The King Machush Novels Of Janusz Korczak

An analysis of of Janusz Korczak’s most famous Polish children’s novels, the King Machush novels, reveals a reversal of the Eden motif so prevalent in much of children’s literature.  If it was Eve who tempted Adam, and caused the subsequent banishment from the garden, it is the boy, Fellek, who tempts Machush into a close friendship while eating cherries in the king’s garden, leading to Machush’s exile and eventual destruction.  Fellek is the son of a platoon guard, whom Machush envies because of his independent nature and ability to lead.  Machush never acknowledges Fellek’s devious nature, lack of desire to truly learn, and immense ego.  His trust in his “beloved” Fellek becomes his undoing.  It is the Young King’s spy, posing as a reporter for the children’s newspaper, who realizes that Fellek can be an instrument to get rid of Machush.(The Young King is Machush’s greatest enemy, because Machush defeated him in a war.)  Machush’s kingdom is forced to surrender to the young king because of Fellek’s betrayal and Machush himself is sent to an uninhabited island.  So, the first Machush novel comes to an end.  Towards the end of the second novel, Fellek appears  again as a threat to Machush’s good will.  Machush’s trust in Fellek results in his giving Fellek a factory job.  When Fellek’s laziness and lack of initiative  reveal themselves in an altercation, it is Machush who is killed in the factory accident.  Thus ends the second and last Machush volume. Although Machush grows to respect adults, children younger than himself and older children, he fails to see the danger posed by his “beloved” Fellek.  Illustration of Machush’s thoughts by Waldemar Andrzejewski from King Machush on an Uninhabited Island.