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MonkeyNotes-Pericles, Prince of Tyre by William Shakespeare
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Act II, Scene 1

Summary

Pericles finds himself washed upon the shore at Pentapolis. He pleads with the stars to stop venting their anger on him and bring him death. He comes across three fishermen mending their nets. He listens with interest to their rough talk and caustic wit. The fishermen say that life on land is no different from that in the sea. In both cases, the big fish swallow the little fish! They wish they could get rid of the rich "drones" in their country. The three notice Pericles and offer him clothing and a meal. Pericles accepts, but does not tell them who he is.

His new friends tell him he is in Pentapolis, a city of Greece. Their king is "the good Simonides." Pericles is impressed by such praise for the king from his poorest subjects. The sailors also inform him that the next day is their princess's birthday. A tournament is to be held in her honor, and the winner will receive her hand in marriage. Pericles silently wishes he could compete. Just then, a fisherman pulls in what seems like a heavy fish. It turns out to be a rusty suit of armor. Pericles is thrilled. It is his father's armor, left to him as a lucky talisman. He now feels fortune is compensating him for past misery. He thinks the armor is a symbol of his father's blessing and that it will help him at the tournament.


Notes

This scene marks an another important step in the protagonist's quest. He has lost all his possessions, as well as evidence of his high rank, in the shipwreck. He must live and compete as an ordinary man. Pericles has already shown himself to be an exemplary leader; now he will show himself to be an exemplary man. This scene also introduces the just king Simonides as yet another positive example of a good king.

The episode of the fishermen with their crude humor and native wit is an earthy contrast to the rest of the activities performed by kings and nobleman. In Shakespeare's plays the common people are often characterized as humorous, rough and warm-hearted. These characters and their scenes will often act as buffers and transitions, providing smooth movement and comic relief.

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