Act 2, Scenes 3-5
Summary – Act Two Scene Three, Scene Four and Scene Five
Scene Three is set in a Hall of State and a banquet is prepared. Simonides, Thaisa, the Marshal, Ladies, Lords, the knights from tilting and attendants enter.
Thaisa presents Pericles with the ‘wreath of victory’ and crowns him ‘King of this day’s happiness’. Pericles is modest and says it is more by fortune than merit. Thaisa tells her father that Pericles is a ‘gallant gentleman’, and he answers that he is but a ‘country gentleman’. In an aside, Thaisa says ‘he seems like diamond to glass’ and in another aside Pericles notes the similarity between the king and his father.
Simonides pauses in a toast to point out that Pericles ‘sit too melancholy’ and says his daughter should pass the wine to him. He also asks her to find out his name and parentage. Pericles tells her his names and informs her of where he is from. He also says that he is ‘looking for adventures in the world’ and explains about the shipwreck.
She relays this information to her father and he says he pities his misfortune ‘and will awake him from his melancholy’. He asks that the knights should dance, and then the knights and ladies. After the dances, Simonides says they have all done well, but Pericles is the best and tells him he has given order for his lodging to be next to theirs.
Scene Four returns to Tyre and Helicanus and Escanes enter. Helicanus explains how ‘Antiochus from incest liv’d not free’ and the gods have sought vengeance by killing him and his daughter with lightning. Escanes says ‘twas very strange’ and Helicanus responds as such:
‘And yet but justice; for though
This king were great, his greatness was guard
To bar heaven’s shaft, but sin had his reward.’
Three Lords enter and they are grieving for the Prince and want to know if he is dead or alive. The second Lord says they submit to Helicanus as ‘our sovereign’ as a kingdom needs a head as buildings need a roof. Helicanus asks them to wait a year and ‘forbear the absence of your king’. If Pericles has not returned by then, he promises to bear their yoke. Helicanus refers to searching for him and they agree. The scene ends with Helicanus saying, ‘ when peers thus knit, a kingdom ever stands’.
Scene Five returns to Pentapolis and Simonides enters reading a letter. The knights meet him and he tells them his daughter has vowed for the next twelve months ‘she’ll not undertake a married life’ and only she knows reason. The knights take their leave and when they have gone Simonides reveals that the letter from his daughter said the following:
‘She’ll wed the stranger knight,
Or never more to view nor day nor light.’
It is also made clear at this point that he commends her choice (of Pericles).
Pericles enters and Simonides praises his sweet music from last night. He shows him his daughter’s letter and Simonides then decides to test him. He accuses Pericles of bewitching his daughter and calls him a traitor. Pericles challenges these accusations and in an aside Simonides says he applauds his courage.
Thaisa enters and Pericles asks her to resolve her father’s anger and tell him that he (Pericles) has not ‘made love’ to her. She asks who would take offence if this were so as this would make her glad. In another aside, Simonides says he is ‘glad on’t with all my heart’. He urges them to come together as man and wife and they both agree to it.
Analysis – Act Two Scene Three, Four and Five
In Act Two Scene Three, Pericles is once more deemed to be melancholic even though he has just won the tournament and this draws further attention to him from Simonides. As well as this aspect to his character, his courage is further drawn out by Simonides when he tests him by saying he has bewitched his daughter. The end of Scene Five marks the end of this part in Pericles’ odyssey as he is united with Thaisa.