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Hooknosed, humpbacked character in marionette and puppet shows (seepuppetry). Adapted from a stock character of the commedia dell'arte, the puppet character was taken to France and England by Italian puppeteers in the 1660s. By 1700 every English puppet show featured Punch (from Punchinello) and his wife, Judy. As marionettes became less popular in the 1790s, smaller glove puppets were used in the popular Punch-and-Judy play. The hooked nose and the brutal, vindictive, and deceitful behaviour of the English Punch were established characteristics by the 19th century. In France his popularity declined during the 19th and 20th centuries, and he disappeared there as a comic figure. Puppeteers in England have carried on the tradition of Punch-and-Judy shows.
This entry comes from Encyclopædia Britannica Concise. For the full entry on Punch, visit Britannica.com.
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