Gower appears to set the stage to Act IV.
Pericles has arrived in Tyre and has settled his affairs there. Thaisa remains at Ephesus, living a life of austerity. Alas, trouble is brewing at Tharsus. Marina’s nurse, Lychorida, has been murdered and it is a matter of time before Marina is murdered likewise. Envy is the cause, envy of Marina who is now an accomplished young lady of unparalleled grace and charm. And the culprit is Dionyzia who can‘t abide the fact that Marina outshines her own daughter, Phileton.
Having obtained Leonine’s oath to do her bidding (to murder Marina), Dionyzia approaches Marina who is lamenting Lychorida’s death by strewing flowers over her grave. Remarking upon Marina’s face, which hasn’t looked too good since her nurse’s death, Dionyzia urges Marina to cease mourning and to take some fresh air by walking with Leonine. When Marina resists, Dionyzia tells Marina that when her father arrives and sees Marina in such a state that he will blame Dionyzia and Cleon for not taking proper care of Marina. Reluctantly, Marina obliges Dionyzia and takes a walk with Leonine. They chat for a while, talking about this and that when Leonine orders Marina to pray. Marina can’t understand why. When Leonine hastens Marina to pray, Marina understands that Leonine means to kill her. She asks why and is told that he is only doing what he has been ordered to do by Dionyzia. Marina can’t why understand why Dionyzia would want to have her killed as she has no cause, but Leonine maintains that he will do what he has been ordered to do. Suddenly, they are assaulted by pirates. Leonine makes a run for it and escapes but Marina is taken captive. Certain that no one in Tharsus will ever see Marina again, Leonine thinks about telling Dionyzia that he has killed Marina and that he has thrown her in the sea, but then he decides to follow the pirates in case, having had their pleasure of her, they decide to leave her for dead somewhere in Ephesus, at which point he would have to kill her.
Pander and Bawd are lamenting a downturn in their trade (buying and selling prostitutes), which can be greatly attributed to the spread of sexually transmitted diseases, when Bout, their servant, appears with a pirate who has Marina in his custody. Bout has put a down payment for Marina. Pleased with what they see, Pander goes to scrape up the rest of the payment, while Bawd orders Bout to go to the market place and advertise Marina. Meanwhile, Marina laments that her life had been spared. She wishes that Leonine had expedited his commission or that the pirates had been crueler and had thrown her overboard. Boult returns to inform Bawd that a number of prospective customers have indicated their interests and would surely be paying their visits tomorrow. Despite the hopelessness of the situation, Marina vows to preserve her virginity somehow, someway.
As Leonine has (presumably) told Dionyzias that he has murdered Marina and has disposed of the body by tossing it into the sea, Dionyzia admits it all to Cleon, of how she had plotted Marina’s death, and of how she had hired Leonine to carry out the murder, justifying all of it as a deed done on behalf of their daughter who would otherwise continue to live in Marina’s shadow. Needless to say, Cleon is incredulous and demands Dionyzia how they are ever going to lie about Marina’s murder to Pericles. But lie about it they will, Dionyzia is certain.
Gower, the poet, appears to narrate scene 4.
Having deputized Lord Escanes with the governorship of Tyria, Pericles, accompanied by Lord Helicanus, arrives at Tharsus for the express purpose of taking his daughter home. Imagine then his shock and grief when he is shown Marina’s tomb. Devastated, Pericles sheds a flood of tears before heading home. To commemorate his daughter, Pericles vows never to wash his face or cut his hair. As to his attire he will limit it to sackcloth.
According to Dionyzia’s epitaph, Thetis, a sea nymph has claimed Marina’s life out of jealousy.
Two gentlemen, who are in the habit of frequenting bawdy houses, resolve to lead lives of virtue and austerity upon encountering Marina.
Pander, Bawd, and Boult are cursing their luck for coming in possession of Marina whose erudite and pious ways are driving away customers when Lysimachus enters their house of ill-repute. He is welcomed and is by and by introduced to Marina who is warned not to squander this opportunity. As this man is no other than the Governor of Mytiline, being in his good graces will profit everyone concerned, Marina is told.
However, as she has done before with her lesser customers, Marina talks Lysimachus out of his intentions, sending him home thinking most highly of Marina’s integrity and character. This so angers Pander, Bawd, and Boult that they decide to deprive Marina of her virginity so as to tame her and make her more tractable to their will. Boult is assigned to perform the task, but as he drags Marina away he too is talked out of his intentions. He is told that it would be far more profitable for him and everyone concerned if Marina were to be leased out as a tutor of singing, weaving, sewing, and dancing. Grudgingly, Boult agrees to do what he can to make the proposal come to pass.