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MonkeyNotes-Pericles, Prince of Tyre by William Shakespeare
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Act II, Scene 2

Summary

A pavilion has been prepared for the games in Simonides' court. The king begins by declaring the purpose of the tournament. He praises his daughter as "beauty's child" created by nature for men to see and wonder at. Thaisa modestly declines his praise. Simonides advises her of her duty, telling her it is her honor to entertain the efforts of each knight at the contest. He explains:

"As jewels lose their glory if neglected, So princes their renoun if not respected."

The importance of a prince's suitability for his rank is emphasized. Then the knights parade before them, displaying their armor and their mottoes. Inevitably, Pericles in his shabby borrowed clothes and rusty armor makes a poor impression when compared to the richly decorated and shining knights. Yet Simonides does not judge the "inward man" by his outward condition, and advises others to do the same.


Notes

As before, Shakespeare uses comparison and contrast to make his point. This scene is intended as a parallel to the other father- daughter pairing in the drama. Antiochus, a tyrant and degenerate father, makes a pretense of arranging his daughter's marriage. Then he slaughters several innocents as a means of protecting and preserving his false honor. He has never had any intention of allowing his daughter to marry, and makes a mockery of the knights' efforts by confounding them with a riddle about his own sinful lover for her. Here, Simonides is respected by his people, loves his daughter, and eagerly seeks a worthy and respectable husband. The competition is not about riddles or puzzles, nor about any outward show of goodness. Simonides seeks a true hero for his princess. As a good father, he also explains to her how important honor and the people's respect is for a ruler. His speech is not simply for her benefit, but for the benefit of the audience as well, who are observing a true morality play in progress.

Visually, there is a good deal of magnificence in the parade of the knights. This extravagance only serves to highlight Pericles' relatively shabby appearance and stress his dependence on simple courage and skill. The scene also shows that a good king, Simonides, has a sound judgement. He is not taken in by outward appearance alone, and encourages his people to be the same.

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