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MonkeyNotes-Pericles, Prince of Tyre by William Shakespeare
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Marina

Marina is born at the same time her mother's life is supposedly lost. Her birth is amidst a fusion of grief and joy. Yet her father names her "Marina", meaning "of the sea." Hence she is a symbol of renewal amidst loss and grief.

The audience knows nothing of her childhood or upbringing till she emerges, full-grown by Elizabethan standards. Her very entry, carrying a basket of flowers to place on the grave, is loaded with symbolism. The clear associations are with Venus, also born of the sea, and Flora, goddess of spring. Marina is innocent, beautiful, loving and courageous. She is confident and outspoken, whether to her potential assassin or to the brothel keepers. Marina's uncompromising virtue is a contrast to the brothel-keepers attempts to justify their actions. When she leaves the brothel, she does so openly and boldly, as befits a symbol of virtue and purity. She next appears as a healer and a teacher. Although the play ends with her proposed marriage, one does not really see her as a lover. She relates to Lysimachus more as a preacher to a soul gone astray than as a lover. She acts as his conscience, and he accepts this, swearing to reform. The love angle is explored only from Lysimachus' side. He admires her and expresses a desire to marry her if he is assured of her having a respectable background.

After her reunion with her father, in which her kindness and concern are obvious, she remains in the background.

Marina's basic function is symbolic. She represents continuity of life and kingship and the virtues of innocence, purity, and kindness. As with Pericles, the conflict she faces is external--that is, with her human enemies and fate. There is no conflict within her nature.


Thaisa

Of the three, Thaisa's character is the least developed. She is presented in the traditional mold of dutiful daughter and chaste wife. She accepts that she should marry the man who will win the tournament. She solemnly listens to her father's advice on the role and duties of princes. It is only in Act II, Scene III that she emerges briefly as a flesh-and-blood woman with strong desires. When the scene opens she modestly declines her father's praise. When he pushes her to talk to Pericles, she is afraid of appearing bold. Then she surprises her father by her spirited declaration that she will marry only the "knight of Tyre." At the time, she is unaware of his rank and fortune. After this scene, however, she is relegated to the background.

As a wife she devotedly accompanies Pericles on the voyage to Tyre, though she is at a delicate stage of her pregnancy. When she is revived at Ephesus, she believes her husband is dead and decides to live the life of a nun at the temple. She continues in that austere life till their reunion fourteen years later.

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