Literature Study GuidesPericlesAct 5 Epilogue Summary

Pericles | Study Guide

William Shakespeare

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Pericles | Act 5, Epilogue | Summary

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Summary

Gower brings the play to a close in a brief epilogue, reminding the audience that Antiochus and his daughter received a "due and just reward." And Pericles, Thaisa, and Marina all suffered greatly from "fortune fierce and keen," but in the end their virtue saved them and they finally attained "joy at last." And when news of the treacherous acts of the wicked Dionyza and cowardly Cleon reached Tarsus, the people rose up and "to rage the city turn, / That him and his they in his palace burn." Gower concludes his brief speech by wishing joy to the audience and exits the stage.

Analysis

The epilogue by Gower ties up one remaining thread in the story, which is the punishment of Cleon and Dionyza for having betrayed the trust Pericles placed in them to raise and protect his daughter. Pericles doesn't have to do anything against them, any more than he had to do anything to avenge himself on Antiochus. However, there is a difference in the manner of death for Antiochus and his daughter compared to the punishment meted out to Cleon and Dionyza. Antiochus and his daughter were struck by a "fire from heaven" (Act 2, Scene 4). This suggests they may have been struck by lightning, which can be construed as an act of the gods to stamp out a crime so horrific they could not remain aloof. The punishment Gower tells is given to Cleon and Dionyza, on the other hand, is wrought by humans enraged by their traitorous actions against a king and his innocent daughter. The people of his own city rise up and burn him and his family in their palace. The suggestion seems to be that while incest is a crime against the gods, betrayal and attempted murder are crimes against fellow humans.

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