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MonkeyNotes-Pericles, Prince of Tyre by William Shakespeare
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Act II, INTRODUCTION

Summary

John Gower enters again, acting as a Chorus. He explains the contrast between Pericles and Antiochus: "better prince and benign lord." He also underlines the moral that the hero, having lost a mite, will gain a mountain. Gower's monologue is interrupted by a dumb show. In the mime, Pericles receives a message. Pericles rewards the messenger, a sign that his news has been welcome and good. Gower reveals that Helicanus is the messenger. His message concerns all the happenings in Tyre. As well, Helicanus tells Pericles of Thaliard's murderous plot. Pericles decides not to stay in Tarsus too long, lest Thaliard should come looking for him. He sails from Tarsus, only to be shipwrecked in a terrible storm. His ship, companions, and possessions are all lost. Finally, "fortune, tired with doing had, threw him ashore, to give him glad."


Notes

Gower once again binds together all the episodes in the play. He brings out for the audience the symbolic and moral aspects of each character. He also explains any contrasts or comparisons intended by the playwright. These details might otherwise have been missed in the confusing shifts from one locale to another. The dumb show adds to the visual element of the play. It takes the action forward and breaks the monotony of Gower's monologues.

The Chorus helps the playwright to declare his views, as well as or in addition to depicting events on a stage. Today, such "interference" from the playwright might irritate the audience. From the ancient Greeks onwards drama was always seen as having a religious and moral purpose. In Shakespeare's time, however, critics often accused drama of being "low" and immoral.

Gower, at the end of his speech, brings out the idea that the storm is not just incidental. It is "fortune" playing with the hero's happiness. This suggests the importance of fate in the play.

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