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Summary Act 5


Gower appears to set the stage for Act V.

Marina contrives to have herself removed from the bawdy house. But the move, as Marina claimed that it would, profits the bawdy house as there are no lack of pupils who will handsomely pay Marina for teaching them the arts of singing, sewing, and dancing the profits of which Marina funnels back to the bawdy house.

As Mytilene prepares itself for its annual feast dedicated to Neptune, Lysimachus espies a number of proud ships approaching his city. They are Tyrian ships which have been blown off course by a storm--Tyrian ships conveying Pericles who is now indifferent to what fate has in store for him.


Identifying himself as the governor of Mytilene, Lysimachus boards the flag ship of the fleet where he is greeted by Helicanus. He is told the that the fleet is Tyrian, and that its commander is Pericles who is in such a state of grief that he is oblivious to the world-at-large. Thus informed, Lysimachus suggests that Helicanus allow a Mytilene maid to engage Pericles, arguing that if anyone can bring Pericles to his senses then that would be the maid whom Lysimachus has in mind. Arguing that he has nothing to lose, Helicanus consents to the suggestion. Marina is brought aboard and she is allowed to what she can to help Pericles . At first, Pericles shoves her away, but by and by she manages to open a dialogue. She offers to tell him her story which she assures him is as full of misfortune and grief as his ever could be. He is eager to hear so she begins with her name which so startles him that she hesitates before carrying on at his insistence. By and by, she tells him how she had grown up at Tharsus, of how she had been betrayed by Cleon, and of how she had ended up in Mytilene. Finally, she discloses her parentage which so overwhelms Pericles with joy and wonder that after informing Helicanus of the miracle he falls into a heavy slumber. While he sleeps, Diana, the goddess of chastity emerges and tells him to go to Ephesus and there at her temple to pray and relate unto its people his story if he ever wishes to completely divest himself of his grief and misfortune. Upon awakening, Pericles informs Helicanus that after their brief sojourn at Mytilene, where they will honor Lysimachus, they will sail for Ephesus.


Gower appears to narrate scene 2.

Pericles consents to give his daughter’s hand in marriage to Lysimachus. But the marriage will be delayed until Pericles has made his pilgrimage to Diana’s temple at Ephesus.


Accompanied by Marina, Lysimachus and Helicanus, among others, Pericles arrives at Diana’s temple which is attended by Cerimon and the votaries of Diana. Without much ado, Pericles relates his tale of woe, of how danger at home had led him to a foreign land where he had married Thaisa, of how Thaisa had died while giving birth on a ship at sea, of how his daughter was nursed by Cleon only to be betrayed by him who sought to murder her, and of how fate had spared Marina’s life and brought her to Mytilene where fate again contrived a miracle, reuniting father and daughter. Pericles has thus spoken when a nun faints. The nun is attended to and Cerimon addresses Pericles, telling him that the fallen nun is no other than Thaisa, Pericles’ wife. Thaisa regains consciousness. She recognizes Pericles and vive-versa. Pericles introduces Thaisa to their daughter and all is well. Cerimon will host the family’s sojourn in Ephesus, after which the family will go to Pentapolis where Marina will be married to Lysimachus. In due time, Marina and Lysimachus will rule Tyre.


Gower, the poet, appears to conclude the play with the following words.

The gods are just. For their abominable crime, Antiochus and his daughter have been struck down. Though racked by misfortune and grief, the goodness of Pericles, Thaisa, and Marina have lead them to their justly earned happiness and prosperity. As for Cleon and Dionyzia, when word of their treachery got out, the people of Tharsus took it upon themselves to reduce them and all that they inherited to ashes.  

William Shakespeare