Pericles tells of a prince who risks his life to win a princess, but discovers that she is in an incestuous relationship with her father and flees to safety. He marries another princess, but she dies giving birth to their daughter. The adventures continue from one disaster to another until the grown-up daughter pulls her father out of despair and the play moves toward a gloriously happy ending.
Characters in the Play
The nautical tale of a wandering prince, Pericles is narrated by John Gower, a poet from the English past. Gower explains that…
Act 1, 1 chorus
Gower sets the stage for Pericles’ entrance at Antioch by telling of the incest between Antiochus and his daughter, whom…
Act 1, scene 1
Pericles risks his life to win the hand of Antiochus’s daughter, but, in meeting the challenge, he learns of the…
Act 1, scene 2
Back in his kingdom of Tyre, Pericles, fearing the power of Antiochus, sets sail once again.
Act 1, scene 3
Thaliard arrives in Tyre to find Pericles gone.
Act 1, scene 4
In Tarsus, King Cleon, Queen Dionyza, and the citizens of the country, dying of hunger, are saved by Pericles and…
Act 2, 2 chorus
Gower tells of Pericles’ departure from Tarsus and of the storm that destroys his ships and men and tosses him…
Act 2, scene 1
Fishermen in Pentapolis provide the shipwrecked Pericles with clothing and then pull his armor from the sea. They agree to…
Act 2, scene 2
At the court, Pericles and other knights present their shields to Princess Thaisa, and Pericles wins the tournament.
Act 2, scene 3
Simonides and Thaisa separately express their admiration for “the stranger knight.”
Act 2, scene 4
In Tyre, Helicanus recounts the awful deaths of Antiochus and his daughter. He then agrees to accept the crown twelve…
Act 2, scene 5
King Simonides, learning that Thaisa loves Pericles, pretends to be angry, but then reveals his pleasure at their mutual love.
Act 3, 3 chorus
Gower picks up the story on the night after Pericles and Thaisa’s wedding and carries it forward through Thaisa’s becoming…
Act 3, scene 1
In the storm, Thaisa dies in giving birth and her body is cast into the sea. To save the baby,…
Act 3, scene 2
The body of Thaisa washes ashore in Ephesus, where she is revived by a physician named Lord Cerimon.
Act 3, scene 3
Pericles leaves the infant, Marina, in the care of Cleon and Dionyza and sails for Tyre.
Act 3, scene 4
In Ephesus, Thaisa decides to become a votaress at the temple of Diana.
Act 4, 4 chorus
Gower carries the story forward fourteen years, focusing on the young Marina. Her beauty and talents arouse murderous hatred in…
Act 4, scene 1
Dionyza’s hired murderer, Leonine, is prevented from murdering Marina by pirates, who carry her away to their ship.
Act 4, scene 2
Marina is sold by the pirates to a brothel in Mytilene.
Act 4, scene 3
Dionyza, after Leonine has (falsely) reported Marina’s death, now justifies her actions to a horrified Cleon.
Act 4, scene 4
Gower tells of Pericles’ arrival in Tarsus, his learning of Marina’s death, and his vow of perpetual mourning.
Act 4, scene 5
In Mytilene, Marina preserves her virginity through eloquent pleas to her potential customers. We see the effect on two such…
Act 4, scene 6
Lysimachus, the governor of Mytilene, arrives at the brothel and is so moved (or shamed) by Marina’s eloquence that he…
Act 5, 5 chorus
Gower describes Marina’s success in Mytilene and tells of Pericles’ ship landing on Mytilene’s shores.
Act 5, scene 1
Lysimachus visits Pericles’ ship and sends for Marina, whose music he thinks will revive the grief-stricken king. When Marina tells…
Act 5, scene 2
Gower tells of the celebrations for Pericles in Mytilene and of the betrothal of Marina and Lysimachus.
Act 5, scene 3
At Diana’s temple in Ephesus, Thaisa recognizes Pericles as her husband and is reunited with him and with her daughter.
Act 5, epilogue
Gower reflects on the now-completed story and tells the fate of Cleon and Dionyza.