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

Gower reports that Marina excels as a teacher of music, art, and embroidery. She has established herself in an "honest house" where she has many pupils of the "noble race." She gives her earnings to the brothel in exchange for her purity. As for Pericles, the winds carry his ship to Mytilene, during the annual feast of Neptune, the sea god. Lysimachus, as governor, pays him an official visit.

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Act V, Scene 1

Summary

Lysimachus is announced at Pericles' residence. He is greeted by Helicanus, Pericles' trusted adviser. Helicanus tells the governor that he cannot meet Pericles, who is in mourning and depression, speaking to no one. Lysimachus suggests a remedy for the problem, offering to bring Marina to visit. He is confident her music will "make a battery through his deafen'd parts" and break through his grief. Lysimachus even says that if he were sure she had noble blood, he would gladly marry her himself.

When Marina arrives and sings, Pericles is unmoved. She begins to talk of her own loss, hoping to strike a sympathetic chord. Her story and her resemblance to his wife move him. He begins to listen. When she mentions her name he is stunned and believes the gods are mocking him through her. When at last he knows her true identity, Pericles bursts out:

"Give me a gash, put me to present pain; Lest this great sea of joys rushing upon me O'erbear the shores of my mortality And drown me with their sweetness."

At this moment of joyful recognition, Pericles hears "the music of the spheres." No one else can hear it. He falls asleep and sees the Goddess Diana in a vision. She commands him to go to her temple at Ephesus. There, he is to reveal the story of his loss before her maiden priests. She warns him that failure to do this will mean continued sorrow. After waking up, Pericles declares his new purpose. He rejects the earlier plan of vengeance against Cleon and sets off for Diana's temple.

The scene ends with Lysimachus asking for permission to court Marina. Pericles gladly consents.


Notes

This scene establishes the growing respect and attraction Lysimachus feels for Marina. He holds back his feelings only because of doubts about her background. In Shakespeare's society, marriages of nobles and princes were invariably also considered alliances within a social context. Hence Lysimachus attitude would be thought normal for and in his position.

This great recognition scene is one of the high points of the play. It has echoes of the famous scene in King Lear where mad Lear is incredulous on seeing his beloved Cordelia whom he had cruelly rejected. In Pericles there is none of the guilt or repentance. Here it is pure joy after the initial disbelief.

The revenge theme, which was central to Elizabethan drama, is quickly disposed off here. Pericles gives up thoughts of revenge against Cleon as a result of the strangely affecting dream he has had. He will now go on to Ephesus, where the audience anticipates his reunion with Thaisa.

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