Act IV

Gower 4

Gower leaves Pericles in Tyre and his wife in Ephesus, concentrating on Marina: talented, graceful, the object of wonder. And also the object of jealousy, for Philoten, Dionyza's own daughter, plays second fiddle to "absolute Marina". Proud mother that she is, she decides like a fairytale stepmother to do away with Marina. Gower places the action on the eve of the as yet "unborn event". Lychorida has died, and the distraught Marina is met by Dionyza and "Leonine, a murtherer".

Act 4.1

Marina is mourning Lychorida with flowers. Like Perdita in The Winter's Tale (4.4), her allusion to classical myth associates her with its heroines: she calls the earth from where (or whom) she takes her flowers "Tellus" (Perdita wishes she had "Proserpine's" flowers). But in her grief she also feels that not only her birth but also her whole life has been "a lasting storm" (18-9), reminding us of her particular origin. No child of the earth she really does "rob" the earth's flowers (13), unlike Perdita who is a child of the country, "a peerless piece of earth" (Imogen in Cymbeline is "a piece of tender air"). Leonine listens to her very vivid picture of the storm in which she was born; by virtue of the boundless compassion common to all the young heroines of the romances she makes the story as vivid as if she had been old enough to remember it for herself, not rely upon a tale Lychorida must have told her (as is described in Confessio Amantis). Leonine is not, however, moved enough by Marina's story or her terrified protests to disobey his vow. They are walking on the edge of the shore, alone, and as he is about to kill her, the sea intervenes and produces some pirates who whisk her away. In Ovid's Metamorphoses, Philomel is rescued from rape by Tereus by being turned at the last minute into the nightingale, the story providing an explanation of the origin of nightingales. Here the sea rescues Marina, because the sea is her origin - as her epitaph claims, she is the "Thetis' birth-child" (4.4.41). Leonine decides, as is usual in the play, that being at sea is as good as being dead, (especially if pirates are involved) and decides to tell Dionyza that he has killed Marina. True to his vow, however, he vows that "If she remain / Whom they have ravish'd must by me be slain" (101-2).

Act 4.2

Things have not come to that, yet. Marina is bought in Mytilene by Pandar, who has been scouring the markets with Bawd and Boult in search of some young blood to invigorate their flagging business - as the Bawd unwholesomely phrases it they are "out of creatures", the ones they have are "with continual action are even as good as rotten" (5-9). To judge from the keen response shown when Boult starts the bidding for her virginity Marina looks (and sounds) like just what they need: "a Spaniard's mouth water'd and he went to bed with her very description" (97-9, compare Iachimo in Cymbeline 1.4). The heroines of the romances are famous for their vitality, but there is a darker side that is perhaps most pronounced in Pericles, the sense that youth and chastity are objects to be consumed, used and then tossed away like the proverbial glove, or a play. It is perhaps not a coincidence that, as is common to the heroines of Cymbeline, Pericles, and The Winter's Tale, the word piece is used to refer to Marina - "when nature fram'd this piece, she meant thee a good turn", says the Bawd to Boult (137). Marina, determined not to take a turn, calls on Diana to prevent "these blushes of hers" being "quench'd by some present practice" (123-4).

Act 4.3

Back in Tharsus Dionyza has told her husband what happened to Marina, and he is deeply upset - "such a piece of slaughter" (2) he exclaims, and what about Pericles? Dionyza is scornful, calling him childish, and he replies "Were I chief lord of all this spacious world, / I'd give it to undo the deed" (5-6), not knowing he will be echoed by a child, Miranda after she witnesses the sinking ship at the start of The Tempest: "Had I been a god of power, I would / Have sunk the sea within the earth, or ere / It should the good ship so have swallowed" (The Tempest 1.2.10-3). In the romances, the play's events provide such impossible power to the shocked and compassionate audience. But Cleon gives in to his Lady Macbeth and her heart of flint. A monument and epitaphs are already almost complete; money has been spent. Cleon calls her a harpy; she dismisses this as the stuff of superstition.

Act 4.4

Gower stands in front of Marina's monument. We learn that Pericles is coming for his daughter, see him in dumb show hearing the news, lamenting, putting on sackcloth and departing "in a mighty passion", followed out by the hypocrites of Tharsus, whose "borrow'd passion" disgusts Gower. He tells us that

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