Study Guide

Pericles, Prince of Tyre Mortality

By William Shakespeare

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<em>Pericles</em> is all about rebirth—both the literal and figurative kind. Come to think of it, all of Shakespeare's romances are into the idea that what's been lost (or what just seems to have been lost) can be recovered. Over the course of this play, we see characters who seem to come back from the dead (we're looking at you, Thaisa) as well as characters that undergo metaphorical rebirths or spiritual changes (especially our boy Pericles). And even though the play makes it clear that eventually we're all going to grow old and die, it leaves us with a sense that good parents can live on through their children and future generations.

Questions About Mortality

  1. Why do you think Shakespeare brings back Gower from "ashes" to help narrate this story?
  2. Do you think that Thaisa actually died and was miraculously brought back to life by Cerimon? Or do you think she was just unconscious, and Cerimon was able to revive her? Why do you think the details of her apparent death are so ambiguous?
  3. Which characters experience rebirths in this play?
  4. How does Thaisa's apparent death during labor help develop the theme of rebirth in this play?
  5. Do you think that Lysimachus is reborn through his encounter with Marina? Why?

Chew on This

When Pericles is reunited with the daughter he thought was dead, he experiences a metaphorical rebirth because he has a new appreciation for his life.

This entire play is an example of rebirth: it's a really, really old story that Shakespeare went out and resurrected.

Pericles, Prince of Tyre Mortality Study Group

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