Places Discussed (Cyclopedia of Literary Places)
*Tyre. Eastern Mediterranean port city that arose as the center of the Phoenician trading empire in ancient times and afterward remained an important trading port. Located in what is now southern Lebanon. The homeland of Prince Pericles.
*Antioch (AN-tee-ahk). Ancient city in Asia Minor and the capital of William Shakespeare’s King Antiochus in this play. Antioch and other cities, such as Tharsus and Tyre, are lands of treachery and blight. To avoid being murdered, Pericles flees Antioch, land of the incestuous Antiochus and his daughter, and hides briefly in Tharsus before taking ship again. Pericles later leaves his daughter in Tharsus, in the care of Cleon and his wife, Dionyza, while he returns to rule in Antioch and Tyre after the deaths of the sinful king and daughter. Years later, Dionyza plots against Pericles’s daughter, Marina, who escapes to Miteline.
Pentapolis. Kingdom ruled by Simonides known as a land of opportunity and ethical judgment. Pericles shipwrecks there, wins a contest for the hand of the king’s daughter, Thaisa, and marries her. They leave the land after it is revealed that Pericles is the rightful ruler of Tyre and must return home.
*Ephesus (EHF-ah-suhs). Ancient city in Asia Minor that is home to the Temple of Diana. After Thaisa dies in childbirth while traveling to Tyre, her body washes...
(The entire section is 258 words.)
Want to Read More?
Subscribe now to read the rest of this article. Plus get complete access to 30,000+ study guides!
Pericles is the first in a group of Shakespeare's last plays called romances or tragicomedies. This group of plays, which also includes Cymbeline, The Winter's Tale, The Tempest, and The Two Noble Kinsmen is characterized by improbable situations, and often includes the discovery that characters presumed dead are, miraculously, still alive. In Pericles, for example, the title character thinks both his wife Thaisa and his daughter Marina are dead and suffers terribly in his grief over their deaths. There is great joy and celebration at the end of the play when he is reunited with first Marina and then Thaisa. The audience, however, knows throughout that Pericles's wife and daughter are still alive. Shakespeare brings characters back from the dead with similar, perhaps greater, dramatic effect in The Winter's Tale when a statue of Hermione comes to life and surprises both the audience and her husband Leontes, who has presumed her dead for nearly twenty years. In the romance plays, there is the lamentation of tragedy and the sense that the will of the gods cannot be opposed by human actions. There is also comic resolution, the plays ending in marriage, reaffirmations of love, and social harmony. The romances are a strange blend of completely different genres, yet they most certainly found an interested audience in Shakespeare's day. They are also curiously appropriate to our own age, an age in which many people are too...
(The entire section is 975 words.)
Bibliography and Further Reading
Barker, Gerard A. "Themes and Variations in Shakespeare's Pericles" English Studies 4, no. 6 (1963): 401-14. Barker argues that Shakespeare deviates from his source in a way that emphasizes religious faith and the great patience of Pericles.
Brockbank, J. P. "Pericles and the Dream of Immortality." Shakespeare Survey 24 (1971): 105-16. Brockbank examines the several deaths and miraculous reappearances of the presumed dead in the play and suggests that Pericles dramatizes rebirth.
Cutts, John P. "Pericles's 'Downright Violence'." Shakespeare Studies 4 (1968): 275-93. Cutts presents Pericles as a seeker of excitement who brings on his own misfortunes.
Felperin, Howard. "Shakespeare's Miracle Play." Shakespeare Quarterly 18, no. 4 (1967): 363-74. Felperin examines each scene of Pericles and, in its allegory and use of a chorus, likens it to a medieval miracle play.
Flower, Annette C. "Disguise and Identity in Pericles, Prince of Tyre." Shakespeare Quarterly 26, no. 1 (1975): 30- 41. Flower focuses on Pericles, Thaisa, and Marina, discussing the significance of the different disguises each adopts throughout the play.
Hoeniger, F. David. "Gower and Shakespeare in Pericles." Shakespeare Quarterly 3, no. 4 (1982): 461-79. Hoeniger examines each scene of the play, discussing the ways in which Gower, as the Chorus, manipulates the audience's...
(The entire section is 450 words.)
Bibliography (Cyclopedia of Literary Characters, Revised Third Edition)
Bergeron, David M. Shakespeare’s Romances and the Royal Family. Lawrence: University Press of Kansas, 1985. Emphasizes the relationship of the masquelike elements of the play to the ceremonial forms predominant at the court of James I. One of the best historical analyses of Pericles, Prince of Tyre.
Fawkner, H. W. Shakespeare’s Miracle Plays. Madison, N.J.: Fairleigh Dickinson University Press, 1992. This fascinating book does not condescend to Pericles, Prince of Tyre as so many Shakespeare studies do. Considers the play as a mature, complex, and achieved work of art.
Frye, Northrop. A Natural Perspective: The Development of Shakespearean Comedy and Romance. New York: Columbia University Press, 1965. In this work and in his earlier Anatomy of Criticism, Frye establishes a critical model of the Hellenistic romance by which the reader may better understand the plot and genre of Pericles, Prince of Tyre.
Knight, G. Wilson. The Crown of Life. New York: Oxford University Press, 1947. Knight was the first modern critic to take Pericles, Prince of Tyre seriously. Discusses the play’s verbal beauty, its adventure, and its spiritual richness.
Neely, Carol Thomas. Broken Nuptials in Shakespeare’s Plays. New Haven, Conn.: Yale...
(The entire section is 217 words.)