Cymbeline begins today…
I can’t help but think of a song by the band X, one of the greatest punk bands to come out of the Los Angeles music scene in the late 70s/early 80s: “The World’s a Mess, It’s in my Kiss.”
This play’s a mess, but the magic is in its evocation of emotion.
This week’s podcast concludes our discussion of Pericles with a concept and cast (kinda, not really) and a conclusion.
So here’s the numerical breakdown…
The day before yesterday, I took a look at the opening Gower chorus for Pericles. And I pretty much found it to be a mess.
Today, let’s take a look at the three Act Five choruses…
Using Professor Rodes’ midpoint theory, let’s take a look at Pericles.
There are 2329 lines in in the play, which means the midpoint is at line 1165, or at Act Three, Scene Two, line 5. According to Dr. Rodes’ theory, you could find at this midpoint–or within twenty lines either way–a speech that perfectly sums up a major theme of the play (the 20-line leeway was to help remove the differences in prose line lengths between individual editions).
The play-opening chorus of Pericles, spoken by Gower, runs 42 lines, mostly in iambic tetrameter. Those are four-foot lines, as opposed to the five-foot iambic pentameter we’re used to hearing come from Shakespeare; of course, the historical Gower wrote in tetrameter, so it fits.
The speech in interesting as it introduces the play and Gower…but not Pericles. He’s not mentioned a single time in the speech, one that spends almost its entire length on Antioch and Antiochus.
And that’s not the only weirdness in the speech…
In Act Two of Pericles, during the parade of jousters at the Pentapolis tournament, Pericles delivers to Thaisa a “withered branch that’s only green at top” (II.ii.43), with the motto “In hac spe vivo” (II.ii.44).
So what does it mean?
No, it’s not bowling for dollars. But looking at the scansion of some of the poetic lines in Pericles gives us a better idea of how to pronounce the unusual names found therein…
Yesterday, I discussed that troublesome Act One, Scene Two of Pericles, what with its weird entering and exiting lords, and references to actions not done. Today, I want to talk about what might seem to be the troublesome title.
Pericles, Prince of Tyre
So. Pericles. Act One, Scene Two. Its weird construction has convinced bardolators–who feel ol’ Bill can’t write crap–that this is part of the play for which Wilkins must get the credit, or in this case blame.
And why, you ask. Well, let’s take a look at the scene…
Happy (pre-) Valentine’s Day! and in that spirit…
[EXPLICIT CONTENT, ADULT LANGUAGE AND SOPHOMORIC SEX HUMOR AHEAD… SKIP IF EASILY OFFENDED.]
So. Pericles and the bawdy. Given that Act Four takes place mostly in a brothel, you know it’s going to bring the bawdy. But what does our Bard of the Bawdy, Eric Partridge say in his Shakespeare’s Bawdy?
On multiple occasions, I’ve complained about the lack for goal/motive/agency for our title character in Pericles. But maybe he’s not the main character or protagonist.
In the second half of the play…
Hear me out.
The more I think about Pericles, the more I see it as weird, a jumble of playwroughting (sp?) techniques.