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Pericles

William Shakespeare

Act V, Chorus and Scene i

Act IV, Scene v

Act V, Scene ii

Summary

Gower enters, telling that Marina escaped the brothel and was sold to an honest house. She thrives, working with her needle and teaching others, and giving her extra money to the Bawd. Meanwhile, Pericles has been at sea, and comes to Mytilene. Lysimachus sets out to meet Pericles on his ship.

On Pericles's ship to Myteline, Helicanus and several sailors discuss the arrival of Lysimachus. Helicanus explains to Lysimachus where they are from, and that the king on board has not spoken for three months. Lysimachus sees Pericles and tries to speak to him, but Pericles won't respond. Lysimachus says that there is a woman in Myteline who he believes can convince Pericles to talk, and sends one of his men to get Marina.

When Marina arrives, Lysimachus comments on her beauty, and sends her in with her maid to talk to Pericles. Marina tells Pericles that she too has endured great grief, having been born of kings, but now being bound in servitude. Pericles speaks to her, and notes in an aside that she seems very like his wife Thaisa. He asks her to tell him about her parentage, saying that if her story is a fraction as horrible as his own has been, then he will deem himself to have been weak in his suffering.

She tells him that her name is Marina, but Pericles interrupts her, saying he is being mocked. She goes on to tell about her father the king, and how she was born at sea. Pericles can't believe it, and asks about her mother. Marina says that her mother died in childbirth, and she was cared for by a nurse named Lychordia. Pericles believes he must be dreaming, and listens as Marina tells about Cleon and Dionyza plotting her death in Tarsus, and of the fortuitous intervention of the pirates. Finally, Marina says she is the daughter of King Pericles.

Pericles calls in Helicanus to tell him if he sees anything unique about Marina, but he doesn't. Pericles tells Marina that he is Pericles, and demands Marina to say the name of her mother. She names Thaisa, and Pericles is overjoyed.

Left alone, Pericles sleeps and is visited by the goddess Diana, who tells Pericles to go to her temple in Ephesus, and, before all who are assembled there, to tell the story of the loss of his wife and discovery of Marina. When he wakes, Pericles declares his intention to go to Ephesus. Before leaving, he promises Marina to Lysimachus.

Commentary

Unlike the other appearances of Gower, this monologue is in iambic pentameter. And while many lines do rhyme, Shakespeare's characteristic enjambment is readily obvious.

In Myteline, Marina has apparently come to be known as something of an angelic figure: she is sent to try to heal Pericles and to get him to talk. In this attempt the doubling between Marina and Pericles as virtuous sufferers is made explicit. Marina draws Pericles out of his silence not because she is his daughter; he speaks before realizing that fact. She draws him out because he senses the same suffering in her that he has experienced.

In this scene, father and daughter are reunited, but it takes them a while to figure out their connection. Like Simonides and Thaisa, Pericles and Marina form a father-daughter pair that is good, virtuous, and right--in continued opposition to the corrupt pairing of Antiochus and Antiochus's daughter. There is a tinge of incestuous possibility when Marina, who used to be a prostitute, if a failed one, is offered to the king to cheer him up. But since she is so virtuous, and he is so good, the result is the healing of a family.

More Help

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Pericles: A Life of Love and Happiness . . . Delayed

by ReadingShakespeareby450th, November 20, 2013

A fun play, hopeful message, and the last Shakespeare comedy/romance on my way to reading all of Shakespeare by his 450th birthday.

In case you're interested, here's my blog on Pericles:

http://ow.ly/r1uXg

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2 out of 2 people found this helpful

A True Fairy Tale

by BardForKidsdotcom, July 12, 2014

This is the Bard's truest fairy tale. Long-lost daughters, wicked step parents, spouses reunited, and even fire from heaven. If it weren't for the incest and brothels - Disney would have a field day with this story. An even better fairy tale than "The Tempest," or "A Midsummer Night's Dream," and most likely a precursor to "The Winters' Tale."

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