Shakespeare's Gower and Gower' s Shakespeare: The Larger Debt of "Pericles."

Hillman, Richard.

Shakespeare's Gower and Gower' s Shakespeare: The Larger Debt of "Pericles."

Hillman, Richard. "Shakespeare's Gower and Gower' s Shakespeare: The Larger Debt of 'Pericles'." Shakespeare Quarterly 36 (1985): 427-37.

Hillman argues that Shakespeare's "Pericles" was more widely influenced by the CA than is previously recognized. He acknowledges Gower's role as "an unusually sophisticated choric function" in the play and accepts the importance of Gower's story of Apollonius (CA book 8) as Shakespeare's primary source. Going further, he explores how and in what ways CA "[t]aken as a whole . . . strikingly furnishes" a precedent for Shakespeare's "use of love themes as a means of exploring larger issues of human spirituality and self-realization" (428). The "tortuous psychic voyage of Amans toward self-discovery" in CA, and the poem's affirmation that "proper behavior at least offers a chance of happiness, while nothing good can come of wickedness," Hillman agues, are echoed in the "pattern of suffering and redemption" (430) in Pericles. Both poem and play indicate the arbitrariness of fortune in human affairs, and Gower's presence in the play serves as a "safety net" (431) for Shakespeare's hero, reminding the audience of the drama that, like Gower's Amans, Shakespeare's Pericles transcends fortune through the gaining and proclamation of his fundamental identity. In each case, "selflessness is explicitly a condition of the renewal of self" (434) and a major step toward acceptance of morality and "reconciliation to the human condition" (435). In a nice turn of phrase, Hillman claims that Shakespeare summons Gower "not only as mouthpiece but also as muse" (437), and he aligns Gower's role in "Pericles" with that of Arion in CA. [MA. Copyright. The John Gower Society. eJGN 38.1.]


Gower Subjects
Influence and Later Allusion
Confessio Amantis