Gower 3

As if he were putting our ear to a keyhole, Gower evokes the night after the feast: snores, a cat waiting for a mouse, the noise of crickets, a baby being conceived. Then the narrative resumes. Helicanus' letter that recalls Pericles to Tyre is presented in dumb show, where we see Thaisa with her child and the nurse, Lychorida. Helicanus had been given a six-month deadline in which to find Pericles after which he would have to take the throne himself, as prolonged uncertainty had put Tyre into a state of near- mutiny. This and Pentapolis' delight when it is discovered that its heir-apparent is a king, Thaisa's wish to accompany Pericles, and the emotions of departure, are all swiftly passed over. Fortune changes once more, a huge storm strikes the boat and Thaisa's cries of terror become those of labour, Gower ends his narration with a direct appeal to the audience's imagination: "in your imagination hold / This stage the ship, upon whose deck. The sea-tost Pericles appears to speak" (59-60)

Act 3.1

The contrast between Gower's story and its stage realisation has never been so marked. Pericles' address to "the god of this great vast" makes his earlier address in 2.1 and the rest of the first two acts seem wooden, its flexible blank verse here is characteristic of Shakespeare's later verse. He begins with a long apostrophe in which the sound of the stressed syllable is nearly always reiterated in the next ("god...great; heaven...hell... hast; bind...brass; deafening, dreadful"), before being quenched into sibillants (sulphurous flashes>"). He shouts to Lychorida the nurse, then back at the storm, then tails off with "The seaman's whistle / Is as a whisper in the ears of death / Unheard" (7-9), immediately to resume his cries. The lines' extreme vocal and emotional range articulate a situation that combines the noise and danger of a storm with the cries and promise of childbirth. The association of labour and of being at sea reoccurs in Prospero's account in The Tempest of his ordeal, cast away with Miranda, where rather strangely he figures himself as in labour: "When I have decked the sea with drops full salt, / Under my burden groaned; which raised in me / An undergoing stomach" (The Tempest 1.2.155-7). Being delivered from danger at sea is therefore a kind of childbirth, as it clearly is here, for Pericles' appeal to Lucina, goddess of childbirth, is surely an appeal for her to deliver not just the baby but the whole boat.

"Lucina, O divinest patroness, and midwife gentle
Of those that cry by night, convey thy deity
Aboard our dancing boat; make swift the pangs
Of my queen's travails!" (10-14)

Thaisa's labour does end; Lychorida enters with a newborn baby, and tells Pericles that his wife is dead: "Take in your arms / This piece of your dead queen" (17-18). Now it is the tumult of conflicting emotions rather than the storm that splits Pericles and his speech; the rest of the scene is marked by his moving addresses to his daughter and to his wife, neither of who can hear his words. Even his initial complaint to the deaf gods is bewildered rather than angry; the sailors' demand that Thaisa's corpse be thrown overboard is greeted with patient acquiescence rather than denial. Pericles' "patience", which might be seen as a lack of emotion, makes the scene extremely moving; instead of venting his own passion (which was one contemporary understanding of emotive speech), he speaks for others, considering their situation and its demand of compassion from its beholders - himself and the audience.

Act 3.2

Ephesus: Cerimon appears with two storm-beaten men, one of who is seeking help for his master who is sick. Cerimon has not seen the master, but can still diagnose from the servants description that he will not survive. Two gentlemen appear, amazed that he is up so early in the morning despite his wealth (to judge from his clothes). They themselves have been roused by the huge storm. Cerimon takes the opportunity to explain that he prizes virtue and skill over wealth and nobility: "I hold it ever, / Virtue and cunning were endowments greater / Than nobleness and riches; careless heirs / May the latter two darken and expend / But immortality attends the former / Making man a god" (26-31). Thaisa's coffin has been washed up and is brought in, and opened, releasing an amazing smell of embalming spices. Pericles has included a letter that tells her story: Cerimon can diagnose that if Pericles is alive he has "a heart / That even cracks with woe!" (78-9). He also thinks he can use his art to revive Thaisa, having heard of an Egyptian who was brought back to life after having been dead for nine hours. A fire is lit, music plays, she begins to stir, and Cerimon greets the opening of her eyelids like the discovery of a treasure trove or of an oracle: "Live / And make us weep to hear your fate, fair creature" (104-5). The two gentlemen concur, astonished, that this is "strange... Most rare".

Act 3.3

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