Literature Study GuidesPericlesAct 3 Scene 3 Summary

Pericles | Study Guide

William Shakespeare

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Pericles | Act 3, Scene 3 | Summary

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Summary

Pericles has safely arrived at Tarsus with his infant daughter and the nurse Lychorida. He tells Cleon he has been too long absent from Tyre and thanks the governor for his hospitality. Pericles adds he has named his daughter Marina because she was born at sea, but she is too frail to make another sea voyage. He asks Cleon and Dionyza to care for Marina, and he leaves Lychorida as her nurse. Cleon and Dionyza make lavish promises to take good care of Marina and raise her along with their own daughter as their own. Their graceful speeches to Pericles commend his generosity in having supplied Tarsus with corn in their time of famine. Cleon goes so far as to tell Pericles, "If neglection / Should therein make me vile ... / The gods revenge it upon me and mine, / To the end of generation!" Reassured that Marina will receive the greatest care, Pericles makes his farewells before taking ship to Tyre.

Analysis

Cleon's speech reassuring Pericles he will raise and educate Marina in a manner suited to her status is as lavish as it will prove to be empty. Although he certainly means to carry out this task, Cleon has no idea how hard it will become to live up to his promise, as Dionyza will become so increasingly jealous of Marina that she orders her murder. The evil wife of the governor of Tarsus must make certain her own daughter's mediocre accomplishments will not continue to be compared to those of the superior Marina. There is in this an implication of the relative status of Cleon, who is governor of Tarsus compared to the more elevated status of Pericles, who is a prince (and now king) of Tyre. Cleon is an example of how people behave toward their superiors, telling them what they think will please them. Although he had few options in which to secure his infant daughter, Pericles has made a mistake in trusting Cleon's and Dionyza's words to him, which will not be fulfilled in his absence. On the other hand, it is the betrayal of Dionyza that places Marina in a position to prove her worth in her actions at the brothel and bring both her and her mother to a reunion with Pericles.

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