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Literature Study GuidesPericlesAct 4 Scene 2 Summary

Pericles | Study Guide

William Shakespeare

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Pericles | Act 4, Scene 2 | Summary



Pander, Bawd, and their servant Bolt arrive at the market in Mytilene to search for fresh girls to fill their brothel. They commiserate with each other on the immediacy of their need and send Bolt out to look for likely prospects. He returns with the pirates, who have Marina captive. On their word that she's a virgin, a price for her is struck, and she is put in Bawd's keeping. She must instruct Marina so "she may not be raw in her entertainment." Bolt is sent out to advertise Marina's availability to the highest bidder to take her maidenhead. Marina laments Leonine didn't kill her before the pirates took her. Bawd tells her she can have a fine life if she pleases the gentlemen, but this promise does nothing to comfort Marina. Bolt returns with the news that upon hearing of a beautiful woman whose virginity is up for sale, the competition to see who will have her first is keen. "I warrant you, mistress, thunder shall not so awake the beds of eels as my giving out her beauty stirs up the lewdly inclined." Marina calls upon Diana as Bawd leads her away.


A virgin was a valuable property for a brothel because she would have been desired by almost any man who was "lewdly inclined." A virgin was also a very rare commodity. Marina's fate adds to the violence and crudeness of this play that has already brought incest, murder, and cannibalism into the plot.

The eel was a metaphor for sex in Shakespeare's time. They were reputed to be a "favorite aphrodisiac." Otherwise, eels in a lewd context often referred to the "boneless" male member as well as the enticing movements of an aroused woman.

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