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MonkeyNotes-Pericles, Prince of Tyre by William Shakespeare
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There are pairs of scenes either providing a contrast or reinforcing each other's effect. Consider for example the courts of Antioch and Pentapolis. At each, young men competing for marriage entertain a king and his daughter. In one, the king and his daughter are wicked and sinful. In the other, the king and his daughter are virtuous and good. Another example is found in the relationship of Pericles to Cleon and Dionyza. Pericles' first visit to Tarsus arouses suspicion in Cleon who, mistrusting his white flags, fear an invasion. But Pericles' intentions are found to be good and generous. This is juxtaposed against events later in the play when Pericles expects kindness and generosity from Cleon and Dionyza, but receives only treachery. A third symmetry is the parallel of losing Thaisa and losing Marina. Neither is actually dead, but both are thought to be. The same is true for the reunions. All these parallels are supposed to act as touchstones for the audience, frames of reference for the many episodes and many years covered in the action of Pericles.


Another technique to impose symmetry on the play is the symbol of the storm. The first storm in Act II, Scene I deprives Pericles of his ship, his men, and all signs of his princely rank. The second storm in Act III, Scene I deprives him of his wife and newly gained happiness, yet he bears it and believes it is the worst that can happen to him. In Act IV with the loss of Marina he loses any hope of happiness, and faces a terrible internal storm which almost "his mortal vessel tears."

A third technique is the use of John Gower as a Chorus: John Gower, a contemporary of Chaucer, was one source of the original story of the play. Shakespeare has therefore used him to act as a commentator, linking the scenes, moralizing over events, and even narrating several events that are not shown on the stage. Since the story is set in ancient Greece, Shakespeare has drawn on the traditional Greek Chorus, an essential part of Greek Tragedy, to fulfill the same function. Gower as Chorus imposes some kind of order or reference, in case certain aspects of the play have been lost on the viewer.

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