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Pericles

William Shakespeare

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Analysis

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Analysis

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Analysis

Analysis

The journey to self-knowledge from a place of unawareness is a repeating narrative for Shakespeare's characters, but no one in this play experiences that change. Pericles leaves his kingdom, fleeing one king who he thinks will kill him because of a contest for the hand of the princess, only to enter an identical contest. He loses his wife whom he barely knew, and then makes sure he won't know his daughter by leaving her in a different kingdom. At the end everyone is reunited, but Pericles divides the family again by sending Marina to Tyre and going to Pentapolis with Thaisa. Meanwhile, Marina is plucked from her royal station and hurled into prostitution, where she merely resists her surroundings but gains no wider knowledge of other people and lives--she just insists on her virtue. Thaisa confines herself to Diana's temple, remaining essentially in the same moment as when she first was separated from Pericles.

And to pull it all together, we have the figure of Gower, most of whose monologues merely repeat the plot of scenes just past, or narrate events that take place offstage. Only through Gower's conclusion are we given a sense of any kind of redemption plot. He explains to us, finally, that Antiochus and his daughter and Cleon and Dionyza are punished because they did evil, whereas Pericles and his family are rewarded. Gower also explains the role of the minor characters, who were living embodiments of their various virtues, such as loyalty (Helicanus) and charity (Cerimon).

If Pericles seems like a Job figure, doomed by a higher power to suffer in order to prove a point about faith and virtue, he certainly doesn't know it himself. No higher power makes itself known until Diana reminds him to go to her temples. No point is made about virtue except that one should have it. Faith has no obvious role. Pericles's travails have the form of a Christian retribution story, but without the background of faith, without any reason for his sufferings.

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Pericles: A Life of Love and Happiness . . . Delayed

by ReadingShakespeareby450th, November 20, 2013

A fun play, hopeful message, and the last Shakespeare comedy/romance on my way to reading all of Shakespeare by his 450th birthday.

In case you're interested, here's my blog on Pericles:

http://ow.ly/r1uXg

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A True Fairy Tale

by BardForKidsdotcom, July 12, 2014

This is the Bard's truest fairy tale. Long-lost daughters, wicked step parents, spouses reunited, and even fire from heaven. If it weren't for the incest and brothels - Disney would have a field day with this story. An even better fairy tale than "The Tempest," or "A Midsummer Night's Dream," and most likely a precursor to "The Winters' Tale."

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5 stars

by leking33, March 31, 2017

I saw Pericles at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival in 2005 with a multi-national cast that included several young woman who had survived the 2004 tsunami which had caused them to go mute; only by being part of the production did they start speaking again. It was done in the Botanical Gardens and when someone said "There's the castle" they pointed to the Edinburgh Castle lit up at night. One of the most magical evenings of theater I've ever experienced. After that I decided to review it for

http:... Read more

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