Literature Study GuidesPericlesAct 3 Scene 4 Summary

Pericles | Study Guide

William Shakespeare

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Pericles | Act 3, Scene 4 | Summary

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Summary

Thaisa has recovered her health under the careful ministrations of Cerimon at Euphrasus, and there now remains the question of what she should do next. Cerimon gives Thaisa the letter and jewels Pericles had placed beside her in the casket. She verifies the letter is written in her husband's hand and states she believes she will never see him again. Given that situation, Thaisa declares, "A vestal livery will I take me to, / And never more have joy." Cerimon tells her the Temple of Diana is nearby, and she can live there "Till your date expire." Thaisa graciously accepts the offer.

Analysis

Thaisa has given up all hope of seeing her husband alive again and is equally unsure if she was safely delivered of a child. She probably assumes they were both lost in the storm. The alternative she sees is to enter into the service of the gods, in this case Diana. This choice was sometimes made during Shakespeare's time by princesses, duchesses, and other royalty who for various reasons entered into convents when they no longer had a place in society, or when they no longer desired to participate in it. It was a type of retreat from the world and a dedication to serving God. Thaisa probably made this choice out of despair and sadness at the cruel fate she suffered under. Cerimon's words "Till your date expire" suggests she could remain at the temple for the rest of her life.

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