Literature Study GuidesPericlesAct 4 Scene 4 Summary

Pericles | Study Guide

William Shakespeare

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Pericles | Act 4, Scene 4 | Summary

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Summary

Gower announces that Pericles, accompanied by the faithful Helicanus, has set sail for Tarsus to bring Marina home. He presents a dumb show in which Cleon and Dionyza show Pericles the beautiful tomb they have raised to Marina. Pericles is shown weeping while Gower describes his grief, saying, "He [Pericles] bears / A tempest which his mortal vessel tears." Gower also reads out Marina's glowing epitaph, reminding the audience "No visor does become black villainy / So well as soft and tender flattery." He then reminds the audience of the troubles still facing Marina, who is in a brothel in Mytilene.

Analysis

Gower's description of Pericles's grief makes a moving comparison between the rough tempests of the seas and the force of Pericles's feelings at the loss of his daughter. His body is described as a "mortal vessel," which not only means a container that holds something but also a boat or ship. The visor to which Gower refers in describing how evil hides behind flattery is a face mask or disguise, as the word visor would have been understood in Shakespeare's time. Just as a mask can obscure the face, so too can "soft and tender flattery"—such as the praise of Marina's epitaph—disguise the face of evil.

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