I am going to discuss the ending of Shakespeare’s Pericles and Laurence Twine’s prose novella The Pattern of Painful Adventures. While both endings are essentially your generic happy ending, two major differences stand out for me. The obvious being Shakespeare’s omitting the son that Twine gives to Pericles.
(For convenience sake I’m going to use the character names from Shakespeare in case anyone hasn’t read Twine)
The other difference I am going to discuss is the notion of reward and revenge that Twine uses at the end. Pericles is not happy to simply have his wife and daughter back, he must now reward those who helped them and seek revenge on those who didn’t.
Throughout both Shakespeare and Twine the character of Pericles suffers much loss, the loss of his wife Thaisa, and the loss of his daughter, Marina. These losses in Shakespeare appear directly linked to Pericles’ character as a man and a young hero, and he appears to diminish until finally he refuses to speak. “It is in vain, he will not speak to you” He simply accepts these situations. While the decline in character is not so obvious in Twine’s version, he too accepts his fate without much hindrance.
“But as there was never yet any thing certaine or permanent in this mortall life, but alwaies we be requited with sowre sauce to our sweete meate, and when wee thinke ourselves surest in the top of joy, then tilt wee downe soonest into the bottome of sorrow” (Chapter 22, Twine, The Pattern of Painful Adventures)
This quote from Twine echoes the notion of Lady Fortune and her spinning wheel that we have seen throughout many texts that we have done in this class, possibly this is why Shakespeare’s version of Pericles diminishes so, because he knows he has no hope against a power such as Lady Fortune.
When Shakespeare’s Pericles is reunited with his wife and daughter, Shakespeare wraps the play up with a happy and simple ending. Pericles is content to simply have them returned to him safely. We see by his grief throughout the play that he never thought this possible. This however, is not sufficient for Twine’s protagonist who feels he must return to where certain events occurred and either reward those involved in helping him, such as the fisherman, or seek revenge on those who didn’t, such as Cleon and Dionyza. “The revenge pleased Apollonius well.” (Chapter 21, Twine, The Pattern of Painful Adventures) (Appollonius being Twine’s Pericles) This could be viewed as Pericles taking matters into his own hands for the first time in either piece. Throughout the play we see evil being punished, such as the intestual King and his daughter and we see good being rewarded. Throughout the play, Pericles, Thaisa and Marina all remained just and virtuous and so they were rewarded by being united.
The Son that Pericles has in Twine’s The Pattern of Painful Adventures appears to lose both his parents quiet young, which may be echoing Pericles’ story as he enters the play quiet young and there is never mention of his parents. He is referred to as the “lusty yoong Altistrates” (Chapter 23, Twine, The Pattern of Painful Adventures) suggesting he may have his father’s characteristics of jumping into battles for Princess’ and tendencies to wander which could be linked back to the notion of the never still wheel of fortune and the never ending cycle of life.
Pericles – Apollonius
Thaisa – Lucina
Marina – Tharisa
Lysimachus – Athanagoras
Dionisiades – Dionyza
Shakespeare, William. Pericles. Ed. Suzanne Gossett. London: Arden Shakespeare, 2004. Print.
Twine, Laurence. The Pattern of Painful Adventures. Ed. Tom Bishop, Andrew Forsberg. London: Internet Shakespeare, 2011. Web.
British Museum, Idealised bust of Pericles. Photograph. 2007. Wikimedia Commons. Web. 13 Dec 2013