I’m trying to catch up with my readings of Shakespeare. I finished Pericles, the Prince of Tyre last week. I haven’t had time to write about it. During the time between reading and writing about this play, I did a little research. It turns out that Pericles may have only been partially written by Shakespeare. Most scholars think he wrote half of it. Many scholars from the 1800s also had trouble with this play because of its bawdiness.
I must say I was surprised by this one as well. Firstly, there is incest. Not only incest, but the king of Antioch will kill any man trying to court his daughter, and she’s okay with it. Secondly, Pericles marries and has a child. This child is kidnapped and sold to a whorehouse. There is almost an entire act devoted to Marina (his daughter) attempting to keep her virtue. In the end, she is brought to her father to “cheer” him up. Of course the whole thing becomes obvious and everyone is happy.
This comedy doesn’t really feature a wedding at the end. It does feature a happy reunion, which was common in the Shakespeare’s comedies. This play has a chorus in the way of a character John Gower. He pushes the story forward in large chunks. It takes place over years, not a matter or days or weeks. There is also a lot of “dumb” playing in it.
Let the real critics say what they will, I enjoyed this play. It was a nice take off from Shakespeare’s usual fare. Read it if you get the chance.