By scholarly consensus, it appears that in the case of Pericles, Prince of Tyre, William Shakespeare finished a play that someone else had been commissioned to write. Recent scholarship indicates that Shakespeare revised the entire play of Pericles, Prince of Tyre from an earlier version by another playwright, probably Thomas Heywood. The play was tremendously popular in its day and was the basis of a prose version by George Wilkins. Pericles, Prince of Tyre is now considered to have been the first of the tragicomedies, or dark romances, that became so popular on the Jacobean stage. The play disregards considerations of time and place, delights in romantic improbabilities, and employs the obscure, compact style of Shakespeare’s late plays. Probably it paved the way not only for Cymbeline (pr. c. 1609-1610, pb. 1623), The Winter’s Tale (pr. c. 1610-1611, pb. 1623), and The Tempest (pr. 1611, pb. 1623) but also for the plays of Francis Beaumont and John Fletcher.
Although seldom performed, Pericles, Prince of Tyre possesses an interesting, romantic story and a certain sentimental beauty. It abounds in situations and surprises, although parts of its theme might be considered unpleasant. The similarities between it and Shakespeare’s other late plays are striking. The likeness between Marina in Pericles, Prince of Tyre and Perdita in The Winter’s Tale is clear. The meeting...
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