Pericles and Thaisa’s Miracle

The essence of Pericles is hope, miracle, and devotion. In the first scene of act three, a strong tempest rages at sea. After giving birth to Marina at sea, Thaisa is presumed dead . Pericles shows his simple humanity and doesn’t shy away from speaking his mind. He laments, “O you gods! Why do you make us love your goodly gifts, and snatch them straight away?” Thenceforth, the sailors demand that because of the strong storm at sea, that the Queen must overboard, or they believe the sea will refuse to wax calm. Pericles immediately dismisses this as their superstition but the sailors are steadfast and Pericles has no choice but to relent. He offers an emotional tribute to Thaisa that rings painfully heartwreching:

[3.1 lines 56 -64] A terrible childbed hast thou had my dear

No light, no fire, Th’ unfriendly elements

Forgot thee utterly! Nor have a time

To give the hallowed to thy grave, but straight

Must cast thee, scarcely coffin’d, in the ooze;

Where, for a monument upon thy bones

And e’er remaining lamps, the belching whale

And humming water must o’erwhelm thy corpse,

Lying with simple shells.

After Pericles offers his apology for not being able to offer her the proper burial he so firmly believes that she deserves, he asks for some items to assist him in giving her the best burial he can given the circumstances: spices; to preserve a pleasant aroma to her casket, ink and paper; to compose a hand-written petition to bury her, (should the casket be retrieved) and jewels; to afford her burial. Pericles writes thus:

Here I give to understand,

If e’er this coffin drives-land,

I, King Pericles, have lost

This queen, worth all our mundane cost.

Who finds her, give her burying;

She was the daughter of a king.

Besides this treasure for a fee,

The gods requite his charity!

 He also procures a water-sealed casket to preserve her body. His devotion and love is as boundless as the sea, and it is beautiful to witness. It is obvious from our observation in this scene, that he had no reasonable expectation of ever seeing her again, but because the sailors wanted her overboard straightaway after presuming her dead, we cannot be sure if or if not Pericles had any modicum of hope that she might be able to be revived, but he had no time, the sailors were firm in their demand, yet the meticulous way he handled her conveyance overboard may intimate a sliver of hope for her survival somewhere deep in his psyche. 

Miraculously, her case washes ashore and even more miraculously, she is revived. 

Many years later, ultimately, Pericles and Thaisa are reunited, Pericles thanks the gods most robustly, “You gods, your present kindness makes my past miseries sports.” 

Conclusively, Pericles’ towering love and devotion to Thaisa undoubtedly deserved his reward, and in a moment of overwhelming joy he bids her to, “Come, be buried a second time within these arms.”


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