Patience, recall Twelfth Night :

Ay, but I know

What dost thou know?

Too well what love women to men may owe:
In faith they are as true as we.
My father had a daughter loved a man
As it may be, perhaps, were I a woman
I should your lordship

And what's her history?

A blank, my lord, she never told her love,
But let concealment like a worm in th'bud
Feed on her damask cheek: she pined in thought,
And with a green and yellow melancholy,
She sat like Patience on a monument,
Smiling at grief. Was not this love indeed?
We men may say more, swear more - but indeed
Our shows are more than will; for still we prove
Much in our vows, but little in our love.

But died thy sister of her love, my boy
Viola: I am all the daughters of my father's house,
Ay, and all the brothers too... and yet I know not... " (2.4.103-121)

Viola's image is powerful because it is an image of suppressed emotion, especially poignant because it allows her to covertly express her love for Orsino and her inability, disguised as a boy, to express it directly, as well as her grief for her drowned brother. Viola's own indirect expression is transgressive, since the sister is invented to cover for a her too assertive "I know." For much of the play, Viola's cross- dressing creates a confusion that is also a window onto suppressed feeling, a vehicle for expression. Here she is defending the authenticity of women's love, claiming that a depth of feeling exists despite a lack of outward passion and "male" swearing, which so often proves false. The two scenes are linked by more than a verbal echo, there is also a metaphorical affinity between two images of a woman containing passion - in the sense of having passion and also restraining or dissuading it. Patience on a gravestone acknowledges mourning but silences it, rather like the snow that falls at the end of James Joyce's story "The Dead" in Dubliners. Until he learned of Marina's death, Pericles had been "patient" despite fortune's attempts to shake him (see Act 3.1), but the last blow was too much and, as Gower says, he fell into "a great passion," falls apart and is put back together, unwittingly, by Marina. The audience of course knows the identity of the protagonists and anticipates the result of the scene, but where in Twelfth Night the audience's superior knowledge creates a fine comic balance between irony and sympathy, here it creates a kind of amazement specific to romance.

Act 5.2

"Now our sands are almost run", says Gower, aware that after such a monumental recognition scene all that remains is a few strings to be tied, Marina's marriage to Lysimachus, Pericles' trip to Ephesus.

Act 5.3

Pericles proclaims himself and his story in front of the altar. Hearing his name the astonished Thaisa calls to him then faints with emotion, but Pericles does not recognise her: "What means this nun? she dies, help, gentlemen!" (15). Cerimon tells him she is his wife, Pericles is incredulous - "I threw her overboard with these very arms" (19). Cerimon continues the story and and they are on the point of going to inspect the proof, the jewels Cerimon found with the coffin when Thaisa wakes up. Thaisa is now a nun, and cannot throw her arms around just any man, but even before she sees the conclusive ring her father gave Pericles, on his finger, she thinks that her very chastity will be the litmus test of her true husband: "If he be none of mine, my sanctity / Will to my sense bend no licentious ear / But curb it, spite of seeing" (5.3.29- 31).

Pericles is overwhelmed: "This, this: no more. You gods, your present kindness / Makes my past miseries sports. You shall do well / That on the touching of her lips I may / Melt and no more be seen," and he embraces Thaisa - "O come, be buried / A second time within these arms" (40-4). Marina kneels before her mother, briefly forming a family tableau before Helicanus and Cerimon are introduced.

All that remains is for them to look at the objects found with Thaisa, for Pericles to cut his beard, and for Marina's marriage to be arranged in Pentapolis, where Simonedes has died. Pericles intends to live there and let his daughter and son-in-law rule Tyre. In the meantime, as at the end of The Winter's Tale, the characters have a lot to tell each other, offstage. The play ends on Pericles' invitation, "Lord Cerimon, we do our longing stay / To hear the rest untold: sir, lead's the way."


Gower's epilogue presents Antiochus' fate as the reward of "monstrous lust" and Pericles' as the virtue protected against fortune. Helicanus is a figure of truth, faith and loyalty, Cerimon of learned charity.

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