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of giving such an order in cold blood, must have been naturally filled with hate and evil passion. We turn with absolute horror from the heartless hypocrite who, with Nattering words and skilfully feigned cheerfulness, lures the harmless confiding victim into the net.
Nor can we clearly explain the indulgence extended by the worthy but weak and undecided Cleon to his criminal wife. The two other female characters of the play do not call for extended remark. The daughter of King Antiochus passes through the first scene like a baleful spectre. The mysterious riddle she propounds to her suitors, and to which Pericles finds the terrible answer that betrays the horrible connection between her and her father, thereby calling down the unquenchable wrath of Antiochus, is the starting-point of the play, since Pericles begins his wanderings to escape their fury. They lead him to Pentapolis, where he wins for his wife Thaisa, the daughter of King Simonides. He puts to sea with her after living some time at his father-in-law's court. She gives birth to a daughter during a fierce storm, and is supposed to have died in childbirth. Her body is committed to the waves. But lucky fate drives the chest which contains her to land at Ephesus. Thaisa awakcs once morc to lisc. Thc noblc lady, who despairs of ever again meeting husband and child, renounces all worldly joys, and leads a secluded and cloistered life in the Temple of Diana. Through a dream brought about by the goddess, Pericles with his newly discovered daughter comes to the city, and the husband and wifc, who had never thought to mcct again in this world, recognise cach other after their long and painful separation. In blissful delight sorely tricd lady cmbraces her husband and the daughter, now grown a lovely girl.
In absolute contradiction to the Shakespearian spirit as expressed in his other dramas, is the Epilogue, which, like the numerous prologues that fill the gaps in the action of this play, aided by pantomimic performers, is placed in the
mouth of the old English poet John Gower. In this Epilogue poetical and pedantic justice is declaimed in a manner nowhere else employed by Shakespeare. Great and eternal truths shine out from every line he wrote, but he never gives them formal application. He shows in the catastrophes of his plays how passion and crime lead to destruction, but he never, abandoning the objective role of the poet, sits subjectively in judgment. Here rewards and punishments arc formally portioned out, and the spectator is called upon to obscrve how Antiochus and his daughter have been punished for their wickedness; how Clcon and Dionyza have been burned alive in their own palace by their subjects for the intended murder of Marina; how, on the contrary, Pericles with his wife and child, after much suffering, have received great good fortune as the reward of their virtue. If this Epilogue be the work of Shakespeare, we can only explain it in one way, viz., that as the young poet was also part owner of the theatre, in view of the material interest of the house he was obliged to conform to the taste of a public that loved such mechanically poctical morality.
Queen Margaret-Elcanor, Duchess of Gloster--Elizabeth,
Qucen to Edward IV.
It lics beyond the province of this book, which aims at describing the femalc characters of Shakespearc, to discuss the important critical questions connected with certain plays of the first period—questions which turn upon doubts as to whether Shakespeare wrote them himself or merely worked over older pieces, and how large a part, in the latter case, may be assigned to him. The question only concerns us in so far as it aids us in judging to what degree the female characters in such plays conform in character and nature to those Shakespeare habitually portrayed, or whether they differ from them, and thus offer a point of departure from which to deduce conclusions as to their authorship. We noted in Titus Andronicus that the characterisation of Tamora, at once a powerful, ambitious woman and an incautious fool, who blindly falls into the stupid snare laid for her, does not bear the stamp of Shakespearian psychology, while, on the other hand, the lovely Marina in Pericles reveals the master's hand in many passages. The most promincnt female character in Henry VI., Queen Margaret (of Anjou), furnishes equally interesting observations. It is doubtful whether the work is Shakespeare's, or by an earlier writcr, and mcrcly worked over by him. The latter is the most probablc conjecture; indccd, it is almost certain. What proportion of thic work must be assigned to the poct cannot be establishıcd, for the older play is not before us.
But at all events, the way in which Shakespcarc worked up the female characters, or lest them as he found then, helps to justify our previous remark, that the female characters of his first period are, with few exceptions, unlovely, gloomy, cerie crcatures. The idiosyncrasics of thcsc female figures docs not contradict our conjecture that Shakcspcarc was influenced in the presentment of his carly female characters, whether wholly or partly his own, by a subjective tendency, induced by mclancholy personal experiences, from which lie only gradually freed himself. All those characters which are the outcome of an independent, calm, and noble method of work, with some exceptions, of which Juliet is one, are to be found in his riper productions. Let us examine the women of Henry VI. We have already referred to the hateful, the Maid of Orleans, and have said enough concerning this caricature. But altogether women do not fare well in Henry VI. All cvil and destructive elements are united in the passionate queen and the Duchess of Gloster. Foremost stands the queen, the Frenchwoman Margaret. Young, beautiful, charming, armed with all the panoply of
her sex, she comes to England. Thc king is enchanted by the aspect of "the fairest queen that ever king received," and delighted with her mild and modest words. But the patriot Gloster hears with regret that this pearl has been bought at the price of the conquests of the great Henry V., and further, that "this pearl" is neither genuine nor pure, that the happiness in her love, of which the poor king dreams, is impossible. The fiendish woman knows this well. With perjury on her lips, she enters the house whose spirit of vengeance she will prove. She loves the knightly, ambitious Suffolk, she despises Henry, whose childlike innocence she cannot understand, and whose weakness of character interferes with her high-reaching plans. It is not in her to sacrifice an inclination on the shrine of duty. Hence we see her, on the one hand, carrying on a criminal relation with Suffolk; on thc other, bccoming a centre of intrigue, and the cup in which all the poison of the ultra-ambitious nobility is collected. Female passion and jealousy hasten the conflict which has long been brooding in the hcarts of the men. The meeting of the two passionate women is described with pitilcss hardness, entirely free from any touch of modern sentimentality. The demonic figures of antiquc lcgend risc bcfore our cycs, and we scem to be listening to Clytemnestra, to Medca. In the terrible and recurring cursing bouts we encounter nature in all her grossness, free from the varnish of good society manners. Here, to justify the poet, we must take into consideration a circumstance true to this day, namely, that women who, at the highest point of their intellectual and moral development, are the equals, nay, often the superiors of men in loving self-sacrifice, when they overstep their protecting moral bounds, go farther than men, who are more capable of self-control. Thus, the quarrel of the two passionate women takes harder and more hateful shapes than even the outrageous fury of the cardinal. Thus, Margaret, after the young and innocent Rutland is
slain, and she gives to the mourning father, to dry his tears, the handkerchief she had dipped in the boy's blood, seems to us a frightful fury, beside whom Lady Macbeth appears mild.
Margaret's character, nevertheless, merits careful study because of its relation to the above-named literary dispute. The attempt has often been made to prove, from outer and inner evidence, that the three parts of Henry VI. were not originally written by Shakespeare, but woven out of two older plays, worked up together. In any case, the three parts of this great Trilogy appear to the careful obscrver to contain fewer poetical beauties, less true passion, more empty and hollow-sounding pathos, in the long-drawn specches of the characters, than we find in the other dramas. It is also undeniable. that the action lacks the unity found in other plays. These, however irregular and apparently capricious, nearly always show, on careful study, more unity of composition than those ever-renewed scenes of crime and bloodshed, against which the mind revolts, until we lose all interest. But, on the other hand, it cannot be denied that the Trilogy, and especially its Second and Third Parts, contain several detached passages in which Shakespeare's master-hand shows with brilliant clearness. It is, therefore, very difficult to decide from internal evidence, and from the poctical form of the Trilogy, as to the authenticity of the work. But the character of Margaret, and the manner in which it is developed and presented, seems to me to contradict the theory of authenticity. She is absolutely unlike Shakespeare's other women,-we do not forget the infinite variety of his female creations, for example, Lady Macbeth and Juliet, Miranda and Portia, and many more, because the whole creation, the fashion of her presentment, differs from his methods. Certainly, in detached passages there are traces of the master-hand to which Shakespeare has accustomed us, but, as a whole, it is wanting in the great, powerful spirit, in the psychological truth we so admire in