‘ahems and ahahs’

Literature, & Etc.

Pericles, Prince of Tyre by William Shakespeare

with 2 comments

What is the deal with Incest and Shakespeare? Is it me or do so many of his plays have this underlying theme where he consistently pushes this line and has fathers and daughters or mothers and sons flirt with incest?

I just started to read Pericles, Prince of Tyre this morning and right away it begins with an Incestuous relationship between a father and his daughter. While Shakespeare is not so blatant in many of his other plays: Hamlet and King Lear, there is definitely something about this social taboo that Shakespeare is determined to play out. (I couldn’t resist the pun, sorry Erin.) revivalOfThaisa

The premise of Pericles, Prince of Tyre is that Antiochus, King of Antioch has slept with his beautiful daughter. To keep the suitors at bay he has devised a test, the solving of a riddle. Those who answer correctly may court his daughter and win the marriage, those who answer incorrectly are sentenced to death. The riddle is as follows:

I am no viper, yet I feed On mother’s flesh which did me breed. I sought a husband, in which labour I found that kindness in a father. He’s a father, son, and husband mild; I mother, wife, and yet his child. How they may be and yet in two, As you will live, resolve it you. (I.i)

I am only two acts into the play but I’m just thinking, isn’t he asking for people to find out about his incest. My guess is that this is how he deals with his sin, he’s basically asking society to solve the riddle and relieve him of the “burden” of incest, the social taboo is so strong that even though he’s committed himself to this act, it still needs to be drawn out into the public sphere.

Hamlet also draws out the incest that occurs between Gertrude and Claudius through the faux-play that is put on for everyone.

So heed these lessons of Shakespeare my friends: If you’re going to have sex with someone in your family, try not to advertise it, although maybe the lesson is that if you do commit incest, advertise or not, it’ll all come out eventually. Ah well, live and learn. You know what they say: If you must incest, best keep it in the family. Yuck, yuck, yuck….


Written by thebeliever07

June 14, 2009 at 10:32 am

2 Responses

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  1. Incest is not just a Shakespearean theme. I likes my field!


    June 14, 2009 at 10:39 am

  2. Tasty pun at the end, kudos. 🙂


    June 14, 2009 at 4:22 pm

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