Literature Study GuidesPericlesAct 5 Scene 3 Summary

Pericles | Study Guide

William Shakespeare

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Pericles | Act 5, Scene 3 | Summary

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Summary

Having arrived at Ephesus, Pericles, Marina, Helicanus, and Lysimachus go to the temple, where they are met by Cerimon and the priestesses, Thaisa among them. Pericles tells who he is in obedience to the goddess's instructions to him, and recites the particulars by which he married Thaisa of Pentapolis only to lose her at sea when she gave birth to their daughter. Hearing this, Thaisa faints, whereupon Cerimon confirms she is Pericles's wife and offers as proof the jewels and letter he found with her in the casket that washed to shore. When she recovers, Thaisa barely recognizes her husband but for a ring he wears that her father had given him. She and Marina are reunited as well, and the kindly roles in the story played by Helicanus and Cerimon are told. Pericles gives lavish thanks to the goddess Diana for the miraculous restoration of his family before telling Thaisa he has given Marina's hand in marriage to the noble Lysimachus.

Analysis

This final scene brings resolution to the play. All misunderstandings are cleared away, and the family that has been separated so long is brought together again. What is interesting is that Shakespeare does not take the "short cut" of simply having the goddess Diana tell Pericles that Thaisa is alive and serving in her temple so he can go and retrieve her. Instead, Diana has instructed Pericles to go there and discover her. For her part, Thaisa verifies Pericles is her husband when she recognizes the ring on his finger that she knows her own father Simonides gave to his son-in-law. This kind of identification—when a character recognizes a long-lost loved one through a familiar object or birthmark, rather than simply recognizing the person—was a regular feature of medieval and Renaissance storytelling.

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