Whether or not you’ve seen the animated film Shrek, you’ve probably come across the enigma that is Lord Farquaad at some point in your life. He’s been taking the meme world by storm, with unfortunate celebrities like Kylie Jenner being compared to the iconic movie villain. With his luscious, bobby haircut, his capacity to be both romantic and ruthless at the same time, and his infallible fashion sense, Lord Farquaad is a goldmine of meme raw material.
If you have seen Shrek, which probably anyone who lived through the 2000s has, then you know a little about the man behind the memes. He’s a narcissistic, cruel, and contemptuous ruler that tries to steal the love of Shrek’s life away from him.
Let’s pull back the curtain, however, on what exactly turned Lord Farquaad into the monster that we see in the movie. Can you really blame him for his evildoings? Or is he simply a product of his environment?
This article will dive into the strange and interesting backstory of Lord Farquaad, and help you understand just what happened in his past to turn him into such an asshole, for lack of a better term. And, hopefully, the implications of this article will reach beyond the big screen and give you some insight into the importance of understanding and forgiving your enemies.
Who Is Lord Farquaad?
Lord Farquaad is the main antagonist, voiced by John Lithgow, in the 2001 animated film Shrek. He’s the lone ruler of Duloc, a fictional city-state in the Shrek universe, and he strives to make his kingdom a perfect utopia. Farquaad has decided that fairytale creatures don’t fit into his image of perfection, and so he expels them from his kingdom, forcing them to take refuge in Shrek’s swamp.
From the very start of the movie, it’s pretty clear that Lord Farquaad is a bad dude. His quest to eliminate all of the fairytale creatures from his kingdom has overtones of ethnic cleansing. And let us not forget that there is a torture scene in this PG-rated film in which Farquaad is pulling limbs off of the gingerbread man. Does the fact that it was a gingerbread man being tortured make it any less of an atrocity? I would argue that it doesn’t.
On top of that, Farquaad discovers that in order to legitimize his kingship, he needs to marry a princess, and so he plans to forcibly wed an unwilling Princess Fiona. Luckily, this plan is foiled when Shrek and Donkey come to the rescue and liberate Fiona from Farquaad’s creepy clutches.
After disappearing from the second and third movies in the Shrek series, he resurfaces once again in Shrek 4-D as a ghost who wants to have Princess Fiona killed so he can claim her as his bride in the afterlife and become king of the underworld. So, you know, pretty much the same thing he did in the first movie, except as a ghost. Shrek 4-D certainly wasn’t the crown jewel of the Shrek series.
Before you write Farquaad off as being entirely evil for his behavior, which undeniably borders on murder, kidnapping, torture, and several other obscenities, it’s worth taking a look at his backstory.
In a musical number called “The Ballad of Farquaad” in Shrek The Musical, we get some interesting insights into Farquaad’s past which may not completely change your opinion of the tiny tyrant, but may help you find some sort of sympathy for him.
The Backstory of Lord Farquaad
The “Ballad of Farquaad” is essentially a lament of Lord Farquaad’s daddy issues. He literally says the words, “You’re going to pay, daddy,” at one point in the musical number. Angsty as it may be, this part of the musical gives the audience some real insight into the character of Lord Farquaad.
Apparently, Lord Farquaad’s father was a miner of very small stature, which explains why Farquaad himself is a very small man with a clear Napoleonic complex. Farquaad’s father was mostly absent due to the nature of his work, which obviously took a large emotional toll on Farquaad. His father is revealed to be Grumpy from Snow White, who appears at the end of the musical at Farquaad’s wedding.
What we also learn from Shrek The Musical is that Farquaad’s mother was the princess from Hans Christian Andersen’s The Princess and the Pea. Farquaad says that his father constructed a bed that was 25 mattresses high for his mother, which emulates the plot of The Princess and the Pea, and that his mother rolled over in her sleep one night and fell to her death.
As if the emotional trauma of losing a mother wasn’t enough, Farquaad’s father apparently then abandoned him in the woods at an age when Farquaad wasn’t even able to walk, leaving the infant to fend for himself. Now, that sounds terrible, but when Farquaad’s appears at Farquaad’s wedding near the end of Shrek The Musical, it’s revealed that his father actually kicked him out of the house when he was 28 years old because he was living in the basement and not paying rent. I guess we can add lying to Farquaad’s list of transgressions.
That being said, the pain that comes from growing up motherless is enough to somewhat explain the emotional train that Lord Farquadd grew into. No one is arguing that Farquaad’s behavior was justified; however, learning about the unfortunate events of his early childhood does give us a deeper level of understanding of Farquaad. I personally have developed a small bit of sympathy for this angry little man after hearing his backstory. Can we ever fully forgive Farquaad for hurting that cute little gingerbread man? For trying to have Shrek killed? For trying to force Fiona into an unhappy marriage? Only time will tell.
Understanding Your Enemies
After diving into the backstory of Lord Farquaad and considering how it may have influenced all of his terrible deeds throughout Shrek, I can’t help but feel that there’s a deeper message to this whole story. Perhaps the creators of Shrek were trying to teach us all a lesson about understanding and forgiving our enemies.
While our knee jerk reaction when someone harms us is to dismiss them as being entirely bad, perhaps it’s worth looking into why our enemies behave the way they do. Oftentimes when someone treats others badly, it’s a way of responding to their own insecurities and personal demons. Learning to understand this is the first step to forgiveness, and forgiving your enemies is an act of maturity and strength.
In the case of Lord Farquaad, it would be easy to dismiss him as being evil to the core. However, when we take a deeper look at what happened to him in his past, we can begin to replace our hatred for him with sympathy.
By practicing forgiveness and understanding in our daily lives, we can create a better world where unkindness is met with love, and people can talk through their problems rather than bottling them up and allowing them to resurface in the form of anger and cruelty.
Whether or not the creators of Shrek intended to portray this message through the backstory of Lord Farquaad, I think it’s worth trying to understand our enemies and the problems they may be harboring. By doing so, you’ll improve the quality of your own life, and also promote a general atmosphere of love instead of contempt.
In the words of Ghandi, “The weak can never forgive. Forgiveness is the attribute of the strong.”
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