week 8: Pericles, Prince of Tyre

week 8: Pericles, Prince of Tyre

Number of replies: 18

I don't provide a text this time - I planned we'd use a printed critical edition of the play available from the library. As this is not an option now, I'd like to recommend the following online edition, the only one I was able to locate containing textual notes and commentary:
https://internetshakespeare.uvic.ca/doc/Per_M/complete/index.html.
Since the text of the play is badly preserved, with a number of inconsistencies and problematic readings, such apparatus is absolutely necessary to make sense of the text.

I'd like to ask you to skim through the whole play to see how the story is reorganized. With Gower making an appearance as the chorus, the derivation of the plot (and, to an extent, of its meaning) from his version of the tale is beyond doubt; yet the play introduces further modifications.
So, my first suggestion for the forum is, as with Gower, to look at how the tale is organized through recurrent motifs, highlighted themes and narratorial comment by Gower as chorus, and to what effect?

We will look in greater detail at the following passages: I.i-ii; II. - entire; III. prologue, i; and V. - entire; i.e. more or less the dramatic rendering of incidents selected for the previous reading (Gower).
They should provide sufficient ground for exploring the thematic structuring of the tale as suggested above. Beyond that, I'd like to ask about your perceptions of the most radical "cultural relocation" (= romancing?) of the tale so far: how does it fit and what does it do in the play as a whole?

Don't try to cover everything: choose what you consider most important / conspicuous / of special interest to you and comment on that.

In reply to First post

Re: week 8: Pericles, Prince of Tyre

by Dominika Kecsöová -
One of the most prominent changes and something I have also commented on previously is the issue of the fisherman: here we have three fishermen, not just one (providing the trademark Shakespeare comedic effect) and there is no moral obligation between them and the shipwrecked Pericles – all he asks is that they give him his father´s armour so that he can go to Pentepolis.
To that is also connected the second difference: the relationship between Pericles and Thaisa. Instead of a teacher, Pericles becomes a knight and impresses Thaisa in a joust. There are some remnants of the previous plot (like reference to Pericles´ playing), but the whole marriage seems even more rushed and surprising than in Gower or OE version.

I think Gower serves as a kind of a controller of the narrative: he is there to prove that despite the changes, the outcome of the story will be the same.
In reply to Dominika Kecsöová

Re: week 8: Pericles, Prince of Tyre

by Helena Znojemská -
I agree that the fishermen provide a comic intermezzo - would you say they do something else, too (as regards their function in the "tale")?
I also wonder what you think about the whole "armour-fishing" scene - is it serious? How do you read it?
In reply to Helena Znojemská

Re: week 8: Pericles, Prince of Tyre

by Zuzana Šindlerová -
I completely agree with 'the fishermen comical effect' comment. I also believe that the fishermen also provide a social commentary on the socio-economic conditions of Shakespeare's present day - a device that he uses quite richly in his writings.
For example using a whale metaphor- the proverbial "big fish" who plays around with the little "fry" and ends up swallowing it whole. He uses the big fish metaphor to describe the whole social unit - the clergy, which could be interpreted as the criticism of the ecclesiastical order that would not be missed by his contemporary audience.

Another example of Shakespeare commenting on the contemporary situation might be the interaction of Pericles and his courtiers.
I believe that unlike in previous versions, Pericles discusses his unfortunate situation with his subjects and Shakespeare also includes a passage that had some currency at his time, and that is the reciprocal duty of the counsellors to give and kings to receive criticism. Helicanus and Pericles both agree, that is more judicial to suppose that even Kings are humans and therefore they do err.It is also Helicanus who advices Pericles to leave his country. If I am not mistaken, in previous versions it was the hero of the story who decided on his own to leave his homeland.

As it was already mentioned in other comments, the reason why Pericles decides to leave his home seem a bit more rational and logical to the present day reader - Pericles being a good lord, taking care of his subjects, unwilling to have them experience evils of war against the stronger Antioch. Even though some of my fellow classmates pointed out some of the knightly characteristics in this version, I still believe that the more knightly kind of thing would be to stay behind and defend one's honour no matter what the consequences. (But obviously, I do recognize many aspects in the play that could be interpreted as knighltly, including the already mentioned courtiers, the jousting, the loyalty of and to one's subjects etc etc.)
In reply to First post

Re: week 8: Pericles, Prince of Tyre

by Danila Gudkov -
Gower's monologues seem to serve the purpose of preventing play from becoming too long by providing context for the main events in the play, while also passing judgement and morality.
Aside from renaming all the characters, the first deviation from Apollonius is that in this version Antiochus' daughter is a willing participant or at the very least was not raped by her father, which changes the character's interactions. Antiochus' riddle is even less subtle as he would feel even less quilt, given the consensual nature of his sin. The daughter has an actual appearance and does not seem to be in distress, making her more wicked and less of a victim. Funnily enough Pericles seems to primarily care about her having premarital sex rather than her choice of partner. Pericles himself comes out as a better person as, unlike Apollonius, he does not simply leave a woman in the hands of her rapist. His abandonment of Marina has a better justification and Diana's presence suggest divine interference, making all the coincidences less of an annoyance.
In reply to Danila Gudkov

Re: week 8: Pericles, Prince of Tyre

by Helena Znojemská -
What your comments seem to suggest is that you see the modifications in the plot as designed to streamline the moral aspect of the tale, doing away with all elements that may be found questionable in the protagonist's behaviour, making him more of a model character (issue of content, "message"). Or is it just making the plot better motivated and more consistent (issue of form, emplotment)?
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Re: week 8: Pericles, Prince of Tyre

by Ivana Turusová -
In the provided passages, I think that Gower and Shakespeare share the desire to show that what Antiochus does is an awful sin. His father love goes far beyond what it shoud mean, yet from there the authors differ. While Gower portrays Antiochus as an evil person overwhelmed with his lust, leaving his daughter broken and on the verge of suicide, Shakespeare makes the father and the daughter equally guilty. The daughter bears no signs of abuse. Apolonius/Pericles' reaction varies as well - while Apolonius barely states that he found out about the incest, Pericles absolutely rejects the daughter and expresses his disgust and disagreement, falling out of love quite quickly.

To expand on Dominika's remark, I think the episode with fishermen serves the same purpose in both works in my opinion - that the main hero, who is of royal background, is saved (or, to be more concrete, clothed) by kindness of poor man's heart.

I'd say that both versions put emphasis on knowledge, especially with Thaisa/Marina - she is pictured as a smart girl with many talents (dancing, good speech) and that helped her remain pure and bring her father from misery.

Gower as a character in Pericles seems to me as a chronicler - he admits he's old and is there to bring a story to younger generations, thus he also serves as a third person omniscient narrator and entertainer. He offers a conclusion and a moral - those who behave wickedly like Antiochus or Cleon with his wife (monstrous lust and being dishonest, respectively) will face punishment, and he praises good values, such as loyalty, truth of Helicanus. I agree with Danila that Gower's character helps to skip lenghty and unimportant scenes.
In reply to Ivana Turusová

Re: week 8: Pericles, Prince of Tyre

by Helena Znojemská -
I'll just pick those elements in your commentary that haven't been mentioned yet - I'd agree that the character who is most transformed on the way from the original version of the story through Gower to Shakespeare is Marina, her experience in the brothel being progressively rendered in terms of a virgin saint's life. To link that to Danila's commentary, the reunion scene disposes of what some of you noted as unconvincing in the original tale - the fact that Apollonius sees nothing familiar in his daughter's features.
In reply to First post

Re: week 8: Pericles, Prince of Tyre

by Liana Marie Ellegate -
There have been many good points made so far that I also noticed in my reading - including the shift in portrayal of the guilt of Antiochus’ daughter as equally guilty as her father, the three fisherman, and the change in the way Pericles catches Thaisa’s attention and admiration. To touch on something that has not yet been mentioned, it was striking to me the way this version included more explanations - for example, both in why Antiochus allowed Pericles extra time before his death and in why Pericles decides to leave his beloved kingdom and subjects behind. The later is an honorable gesture to put the wellbeing of his kingdom and subjects before his own pride - if Pericles were a less caring ruler he could put his own grievances before his people and bring his kingdom to ruin by engaging in war with Antiochus. Furthermore, throughout the text there are more references to ideas that connect back to Arthurian Romance tales, such as knighting, divine fortune (I interpreted this in the chance recovery of Pericles’ father’s armor from the sea), and the jousting, to name some. These details make the story seem to closer in characteristics to an Arthurian Romance, in which kings must remain virtuous to maintain their divine right to rule, in which divine intervention can sometimes come to the rescue when the hero is in need (thus further emphasizing their right to be hero in the story), and in which there is more emphasis on the good knightly/princely characteristics of honor, loyalty, and chivalry. Beyond these ideas being familiar in connection to another part of the romance genre, they also re-frame the story in a more understandable cultural context for Shakespeare’s time - the jousting makes more sense as a way for an unknown knight to get attention from a king or princess, and the courtly interactions are emphasized more.
In reply to Liana Marie Ellegate

Re: week 8: Pericles, Prince of Tyre

by Helena Znojemská -
You are undoubtedly right that Shakespeare's version introduces a number of motifs we know from earlier romance narratives - the faithful steward, issues of chivalry/kingship etc. Of the three versions this one has "romance" written all over it - which, in a sense, is curious, seeing that romance was extremely popular yet clearly archaic form at the time.
In reply to First post

Re: week 8: Pericles, Prince of Tyre

by Valeriia Kliuieva -
Pericles is not the best one in everything, he is not suggested to be a jack of all trades, though he claims to have a descent education in arms and arts. Winning in the tournament, he claims it is with the help of the destiny, which I believe has sense (since he went to the tournament almost immediately after the shipwreck). Also:
Simonides
Sir, you are music's master.
Pericles
The worst of all her scholars, my good lord.
Pericles is a different person than Appollonius. He claims himself to be "gentleman of Tyre, my name Pericles", and he is indeed very gentlemanlike and modest. And yet, the first reaction of Thaisa´s father on her love to Pericles would be also different from the other versions: 
"Thou hast bewitched my daughter, and thou art
villain!"
Also, to comment on the Antiochus´ daughter. It is not much told about her, she has like three lines and almost no stage directions, and we can´t say she doesn´t seem to be distressed, all we know is Pericles´ conclusion on that matter and Gower´s line "And her to incest did provoke" which is commented "The wording suggests that Antiochus initiated, and the daughter responded to, overtures of incest", I am sorry but the wording suggests? It doesn´t make much sense to me then that she told Pericles she would want him out of all the suitors, she would need to be against of it if she volunteerly took part in such a thing. Also, she barely speaks, she leaves room right after the king tells her to how can we know anything about her. 
In reply to Valeriia Kliuieva

Re: week 8: Pericles, Prince of Tyre

by Danila Gudkov -
I've read it as her simply playing her role and/or indulging in a bit of flattery as Pericles, in her mind, would soon be dead anyway. Her words also make sense in that both she and her father hide their relationship and as such in the eyes of public she should be both available and willing to marry. On the other hand, Gower is not entirely impartial in his monologues, so there is a room for doubting.
In reply to Valeriia Kliuieva

Re: week 8: Pericles, Prince of Tyre

by Helena Znojemská -
A selective response: Archistrates' accusation of Pericles is clearly identified as stratagem on the part of the king - a test to try Thaisa's and Pericles' determination and integrity.
As to Antiochus daughter - sorry, but what else can we work with except Gower's contextualizing of the scene? And the wording does suggest, since Gower uses the plural in speaking of what has been going on between Antiochus and his daughter: "But custom what they did begin / Was with long use account' no sin." We would have to posit a degree of tension between Gower's telling and the dramatic scenes' showing - which is what happens in Henry V, for example, but doesn't seem to be a feature here - or does it? What do you think, anybody?
In reply to First post

Re: week 8: Pericles, Prince of Tyre

by Jáchym Hájek -
To add to the "romancing" side of this debate, I found it interesting how much space is given e. g. to Pericles's court, which is something that really made the story seem much more medieval than the previous versions to me. After all, courts featured prominently in all the previous romances, and also the scene helps to establish Pericles as a good, just and wise ruler, listening to his lords - his dialogue with Helicanus at the beginning reminded me very strongly of all the tales with the examples of lord-retainer relationship we've read in our Medieval Literature course. Helicanus's promise to "mingle our bloods together in the earth", then reminded me for example of The Battle of Maldon, where Byrthnoth's vassals promised to fight together and die for their ruler.
On the issue of Antiochus's daughter - I, too, would say the text tries to paint her as an accomplice in a sort of victim-blaming way, but also it then dwells much more on Pericles's dealing with the issue of incest - the daughter is dismissed with but a few lines, really. That is almost ironic at the beginning, where Gower is the one re-telling the story, as in Gower's text the impact it has on the daughter is shown in a much greater extend.
In relation to Stevens's essay, the re-telling here can to an extent be seen as a series of images with some religious undertones - the three fishermen mentioned by my colleagues, for example, can point to some "divine" significance, as the number three is seen as holy in a lot of stories - and this could partly explain the fishermen's increase in number.
In reply to Jáchym Hájek

Re: week 8: Pericles, Prince of Tyre

by Helena Znojemská -
You agree with Liana on that - the zooming out to include the environment of the court and issues of kingship.
In reply to First post

Re: week 8: Pericles, Prince of Tyre

by Simona Sailerová -
The opening scene in Antioch echoes Gower’s Prologue in Confessio Amantis to some extent. Especially Pericles’ answer to Antiochus with its moralizing tone, pointing out the responsibility of rulers to lead by example in moral conduct: “And if Jove stray, who dares say Jove doth ill?” [150] (cf. Confessio: “And chiefly if the power borne | By those who are the nations’ guides | Have not good counsel from all sides, |To hold it upright so that Hate | Breaks not Love’s orderly estate” [145-8]) Also the repeated references to trees, fruits and snakes suggest the theme of sin (and Pericles’ temptation). In a way, this contrasts with Gower’s mention of nudity during the games in Pentapolis discussed in the previous session, which “Amonges hem was no refus [disgrace].” [686] This could also be an allusion to Adam and Eve in Eden, before their sin, which would connect Archistrates’ kingdom with the golden age from Gower’s Prologue.
As mentioned above, Antiochus’ riddle is not much of a riddle. Pericles does not even need to consult his books to make sure there can be no doubt of the solution. But the real riddle seems to be visual rather that verbal. Initially, he is so struck by the daughter’s beauty that he sees her as virtuous before he learns to see the container vs. the contents (“glorious casket stored with ill” [123]). He finds something similar in Antiochus’ response to his answer (“How courtesy would seem to cover sin” [168]) and the same is true of Antiochus’ riddle scheme on the whole. In addition, solving the riddle is not described as an intellectual task but as a chivalric deed: “I wait the sharpest blow, Antiochus.” [100]; “Like a bold champion I assume the lists, | Nor ask advice of any other thought | But faithfulness and courage.” [107-9]. Antiochus is his opponent, but it is the entire battle that is dishonourable and Pericles fails simply by participating in it because there is no good solution and the chivalric language seems misapplied here. This is in contrast with the actual tournament in Pentapolis. It is only here that Pericles becomes a proper knight with an armour and a dressing scene. A significant departure from previous versions is Pericles’ intention to compete for Thaisa in the tournament.
Gower as chorus is a device that regulates the passage of time, measures it with his regular rhythm and reasserts the audience’s attention, e.g. “Only, I carried winged time | Post on the lame feet of my rhyme, | Which never could I so convey, | Unless your thoughts went on my way.” [1417-20] He also guides the imagination – provides some culture-specific detail but invites the audience to fill in the rest for themselves.
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Re: week 8: Pericles, Prince of Tyre

by Kateřina Mudrová -
I agree that Pericles is no longer portrayed as the master of all trades, and as an indirect result (more likely the author’s choice) his primary strength (and the general focus) is no longer in learning. At first, I wanted to say that Pericles is prouder and bolder (see the riddle scene: Think death no hazard in this enterprise, (he calls himself) would be son to great Antiochus), however, as has been mentioned by Valeria, at the same time, he is no longer so assured in his skills or being fit for Thaisa’s teacher. In Pericles, it is generally made clear that the virtues in which the main heroes excel, and which make their happy ending possible are faithfulness and courage. (“Like a bold champion I assume the lists, nor ask advice of any other thought, But faithfulness and courage”). The theme of the main protagonists’ helplessness against the power of fate is still very much present (the characters refer to it not only as the source of their misfortune but also good fortune).

Concerning both the structural alternations and the shift towards romance environment, I saw it partially as instrumental to the author’s need to highlight different character traits, create more dynamic and diverse episodes both in terms of action and humour. E.g., the choice of jousting tournament over the gymnasium scene and the singing performance (mentioned only peripherally) both brings the episode closer to the renaissance audience, allows the inclusion of the armour episode, which not only creates tension between Pericles and the other knights, but also allows the introduction of the (shield) emblems as a motif popular at the time. The scene where the king teases Pericles, who feels deeply offended and draws out his sword was surely created to bring in some dramatic action, the same goes for the sudden intervention of the pirates. I agree that the introduction of Gower as the chorus gives the play a clearer structure and allows smoother transition between the episodes as well as more efficient communication with the audience.

The shifting of the blame in the relationship between Antiochus and his daughter has also caught my attention, for me, the ambiguity is achieved mostly by replacing Gower’s scene where the reader is witness to the rape, the daughter’s despair and her following absence of other choices (except death). However, in comparison to the remaining female characters she seems quite passive and powerless.
In reply to First post

Re: week 8: Pericles, Prince of Tyre

by Adéla Zeimannová -
The play seems to emphasize very similar values as the other versions; honor, family, honesty, but also seems to highlight loyalty, royal x subject relationships (Helicanus staying loyal to Pericles, not wanting to take over the throne unless completely necessary), governing (characteristics of good and bad royals) and social and economic issues.
The main contrast is still put on the proper x improper families, here it seems it is equated with proper x improper royals.

Among the differences, the one the other ones already mentioned, the one that stood out to me was the way Antiochus’s daughter is treated. It seems like she is blamed as much as her father for their improper relations. It appears that she no longer sees the error of the relationship for which she is heavily criticized.
I also agree that the fishermen serve not only for a comedic effect but provide some socio-economic commentary. Like comments criticizing the unfair treatment based on wealth and status (wealthy and people of status are often able to escape punishment)
We also get comments on fate (people have no control over what happens, life is unpredictable, one cannot control the will of gods).
Gower’s character seems to play a great role in the play, he serves as a constant reminder of how old the story is, and that it is him who is retelling it, having the control over how it will be told. His speech seems archaic in comparison with others, besides presenting each act and reviewing the progress of events, he adds moralizing comments, while adding dumbshows mid-speech to convey more action.
There is still a lot of romance-like features to the story: tournaments, shipwrecks, villains, adventures etc. It is also quite heavy on proverbs, presenting images, similes and analogies.
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Re: week 8: Pericles, Prince of Tyre

by Michaela Válková -
As many of my colleagues have already mentioned the differences in the opening scene and commented on the metaphor of the whale swallowing the smaller fish (a metaphor which I find extremely clever and innovative), I will focus on the organisation of the play and Gower as the chorus in my response. It seemed to me that Gower serves as a device to get the plot moving. The whole play seems to be organised in the following pattern: A character finds himself/herself in a new situation in a new land. There, he/she meets a few people, makes a conversation or we get to observe how he/she lives. Then comes Gower who tells us the adventurous events that will have happened followingly (such events which would be impossible to act on a stage in a theatre). Subsequently, we move on to another scene with either the same character or a different one. Additionally, the play follows many separate storylines. The most obvious one is, of course, Pericles’ story, who ends up reunited with both Thaisa and Marina. However, we also get a glimpse into Thaisa’s life after she had been saved (I must say that this was one of the most incredible events in the story – poor Thaisa, having been thrown into the sea in a coffin only to be rescued with a letter begging for her to get a decent funeral to turn out she is actually alive). Certainly, we also follow Marina’s life from the point of her attempted assassination by Dionyza, then we see her outwit the pirates in an attempt to preserve her maidenhood (virginity seems to be one of the most prominent themes in Shakespeare’s version of the story; Marina’s determination to preserve her virginity is contrasted with Antiochus’ daughter who does nothing to prevent her own “sin” in this version), to finally being reunited with her father. Hence, it seems to me that the play follows numerous interwoven storylines which all come to be resolved in the happy ending.