Pericles and the Spiritual Wisdom of Joanna Baillie’s Sacred Dramas The Martyr and The Bride

Marjean D. Purinton, Marliss C. Desens

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterpeer-review


Joanna Baillie’s sacred dramas The Martyr and The Bride translate the secular miracles of William Shakespeare’s Pericles into religious reflection. While both Baillie’s and Shakespeare’s plays resonate with the wondrous, the miraculous of medieval mystery cycle plays, their deployment of divine Providence suggests that Pericles has spiritual affinities to Baillie’s drama. The opening scene of Pericles, with its depiction of father-daughter incest, foregrounds a basic taboo of human society. Pericles’ experiences at Simonides’ court restore for him the possibility of pure, unselfish love for others, a love that is possible only because the feminine is embraced. Pericles clearly shows that just as there can be a destructive masculine nature, so too is there a destructive feminine nature. Of all Shakespeare’s romances, only Pericles takes an approach that might have helped lay the foundations for Baillie’s sacred dramas by pointing toward the feminine as an essential component of the spiritual life and wisdom.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationShakespeare and the Culture of Romanticism
PublisherTaylor and Francis
Number of pages14
ISBN (Electronic)9781351900805
ISBN (Print)9781315243351
StatePublished - Dec 5 2016


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