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PlayShakespeare.com: The Ultimate Free Shakespeare Resource
PlayShakespeare.com: The Ultimate Free Shakespeare Resource

Pericles Characters

Pericles is the Prince and King of Tyre. A passive man who mostly reacts to events rather than causing them, he leads a rather doom-laden life, each blow leading him a little lower until he sinks into catatonic depression. 

He can be subject to dark moods in which he is dangerous, and his councilors know it. He is a good fighter and a physically brave man, willing to risk death in the hopes of achieving the hand of Antiochus’s daughter, but when he solves the riddle and realizes that Antiochus is aware that he has, he flees. Conscious of the danger to his realm from Antiochus if he stays there, he takes to the seas to visit Tarsus, though in the long run this will endanger his throne. Though a decent, honest man, he does not appear to be the most communicative of monarchs, often forgetting to let his councilors know that he’s still alive when he’s travelling. Shipwrecked in Pentapolis, he hides his identity as King until Antiochus is dead. He is deeply in love with his wife Thaisa, and mourns her death deeply. Having almost lost his throne when spending too far away without giving news of himself after his first shipwreck, after the second he spends the next fourteen years in Tyre. He leaves his daughter Marina with some friends on the other side of the sea, swearing not to cut his hair until she is married. He is distraught at the news of her death, fourteen years later, at which point he is very hairy indeed. This final blow leaves him almost comatose with depression, unspeaking and unresponsive, until he is brought back to life by the singing and talk of a young lady who turns out to be his not-dead daughter. At this point he hears the music of the spheres, and Diana the goddess of chastity appears to him in a vision. Obedient to her, he recounts his story at her temple at Ephesus, where he is reunited with his also-living wife, at which stage it would seem that his troubles are at an end. Though he apostrophizes the heavens, he never blames them, only begging for mercy. The list of his misfortunes – in danger of assassination, shipwrecked, almost shipwrecked again, wife dead in childbirth, daughter dead – lead one to wonder what exactly he’s done to deserve them; the answer is nothing. He is a very average sort of monarch, something of an Everyman to whom bad things happen.

 

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