Date of Award

Spring 1997

Document Type

Dissertation - Restricted

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)



First Advisor

Stephens, James

Second Advisor

Asp, Carolyn

Third Advisor

Rivero, Albert


Pericles, the first of Shakespeare's late plays known as the romances or tragicomedies, is one of the dramatist's least familiar works. It is known primarily to Renaissance-literature scholars, some college English majors and a few innocents who have happened upon one of its rare productions. During the twentieth century it has been rediscovered and defended by a fair number of critics. However, it is still a relatively obscure play, and, while literary professionals have dealt with various aspects of the problems that have plagued the drama, it has not been anthologized, and the theater-going public is not familiar with it. It is a play that has been neglected, but it does not deserve that neglect. I intend to argue that Pericles has an important place as a pivotal work in the Shakespeare canon. It is part of a continuum with the playwright's other dramatic works, thematically, stylistically and historically, and it is especially significant as the introductory work to the three romances that follow it -Cymbeline, The Winter's Tale and The Tempest. It is, therefore, worthwhile for critics, teachers and dramatists to invest some effort in recuperating this work. A beginning has been made, but, for all practical purposes, the change has been minimal. As the title indicates, this work is a defense of Pericles. My reading has convinced me that this is appropriate because the play has been challenged as to its importance, its nature in terms of genre, and its authorship. The idea that Pericles is more significant than critics have tended to admit is an on-going argument in all the chapters. Especially important is my discussion of its opposition to The Tempest, which ends the set of plays that Pericles begins. An entire chapter is devoted to questions of genre, both that of the play itself and that of the group to which it belongs. Throughout my work, I point out the evidence supporting Shakespeare's involvement in the creation of the entire play. This evidence includes the very use of Gower as narrator, as well as the use of the extended metaphor of the sea. These are the major issues that are subsumed in the argument that Pericles' importance lies in its being a pivotal and transitional play in a number of ways...



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