Act II

Gower 2

Gower's second appearance marks the difference between saying and showing, narrative and performance; the archaic language and the use of dumb-show are grotesque approximations, as is his recapitulation of the action so far: "Here have you seen a mighty king / His child to incest bring; / A better prince and benign lord / That will appear awful in both deed and word / Be quiet then, as men should be" (1-5). An implied impatience is forestalled, already the audience has seen two figures, Antiochus and Pericles, as if at Madame Tussaud's, and soon Gower "will show you those in troubles reign / Losing a mite, a mountain gain" (7-8). In the meantime, we learn that in Tharsus Pericles' very word is like holy writ, a statue of him has been built; in dumb show we see him receive the letter from the industrious Helicanus, warning him about Thaliard. Pericles puts to sea, only to be the sole survivor of shipwreck:

"And here he comes. What shall be next ,
Pardon old Gower,- here 'longs the text" (39-40)

Act 2.1

"Cease your ire", Pericles calls to the elements, but he is not defiant, acknowledging that man "is but a substance that must yield to you" (3). The dignity of "And having thrown him from your wat'ry grave / Here to have death in peace is all he'll crave" (10-11) is immediately dispelled with the entrance of the three fishermen. The tone changes completely, and for a moment Pericles and the audience find themselves in a different kind of play altogether, contemporary, colloquial, satirical. A similar collision of worlds occurs in the brothel scenes later in the play, but here the tone is lighter. "How from the finny subject of sea / These fishers tell the infirmities of men / And from their wat'ry empire recollect / All that may men approve or men detect!" (47-8) comments Pericles. As with fish, so with men: "the great ones eat up the little ones" (2.1.28), while great misers are compared to whales who swallow up the whole land, possibly a reference to the sixteenth century land enclosures that had deprived the people of common grazing land and made it part of noble estates. The image of ringing the bells in the swallowed steeple until the whale vomits back the land gives a Rabelaisian twist to the story of Jonah, who did not have such initiative. Pericles, as improbable as Jonah, is treated generously, although as if to demonstrate the foreignness of a romance hero on this shore, his words, such as "honest", "beg" and "crave" are deliberately misinterpreted. He learns that he is in Pentapolis and that king Simonedes is holding a tournament for his daughter. When his armour, left to him by his father, is fished out, stuck in the net "like a poor man's right in the law" (116), Pericles asks for it, in order to go and joust. The fishermen give it to him willingly, claiming: " 'twas we that made up this garment through the rough seams of the waters: there are certain condolements, certain vails. I hope, sir, if you thrive, you'll remember from whence you had them" (146- 151)

The fisherman's claim to have "made it up" is a claim to have made Pericles too. By the end of the play, the parts of Pericles' life have in fact been pieced together from the sea, just as it had threatened to tear him apart. Similarly, Prospero's island in The Tempest is an image of his mind, dry land miraculously maintained against the encroaching sea of time. The theme of the sea and earth swallowing one another occurs in both plays: the whale here, in Marina's epitaph (4.4.34-43) and in The Tempest (1.2.1-13). Read less figuratively and in keeping with the satirical aspects of the scene, the fishermen's claim on Pericles is the claim of the poor upon their rulers, the weak upon the strong - "the poor man's right in the law".

Act 2.2

Before the tournament begins the knights march past Simonedes' pavilion, He and his daughter Thaisa look on and read the knights as one might read an emblem book, the probable source of their mottoes. There is no equivalent of the scene in either Twine or Gower, but such spectacles certainly occurred at the Elizabethan court, for example the Accession Day Tilts, originated by Sir Henry Lee. Shakespeare has a march-past in Troilus and Cressida (1.2), while Philip Sidney both organised and wrote about these highly extravagant displays, and was parodied by Thomas Nashe in The Unfortunate Traveller. Emblems were an important aspect of Renaissance consciousness and understanding; in a society where there were few pictures images were swiftly invested with symbolic and didactic worth. Pericles, shieldless and in rusty armour, is a highly incongruous figure. Because he does not have a shield his emblem cannot be a picture but an object, "A wither'd branch, that's only green on top" (41-2), which he gives directly to Thaisa. His motto, which presumably he speaks, is In hac spe vivo (in this hope I live). There

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