Study Guide

Bawd and Pander in Pericles, Prince of Tyre

By William Shakespeare

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Bawd and Pander

These two low-lives are real pieces of work. Just as her names implies, Bawd is the madam of a brothel. (Yep. That puts her in Mistress Overdone and Mistress Quickly territory, all right.) Bawd runs the joint with her hubby, Pander. By the way, "pander" literally means "pimp." Don't blame us; blame Shakespeare.

In the play, this classy couple buys Marina from a bunch of pirates, and then they try to put her to work in their bawdy house. Yes, a brothel. There's just one hitch: Marina's not having any of it, despite Bawd's best efforts to teach her how to be a profitable "piece" (4.2.115-121).

As we know, Marina keeps her V-card during her time in the brothel and ends up talking all the potential clients into changing their wicked ways. Bawd and Pander finally get so fed up with Marina that they send the girl to an honorable "house" where she makes money by singing and teaching.

But don't go thinking that Bawd and Pander have changed their ways. They're business people at heart: they totally take Marina's earnings and keep them for themselves. They just figure she's more profitable as a singer and a teacher than as a prostitute.

One last thing, folks. Although child prostitution is never a laughing matter, Shakespeare's Bawd and Pander offer up quite a lot of comic relief in this play—especially since they don't realize just how awful they are. Remember how they pat themselves on the back for raising all the little "bastards" their prostitutes have given birth to (4.2.13-15)?

Talk about irony. These two are utterly clueless and actually think they're doing the world a big favor.

Bawd and Pander in Pericles, Prince of Tyre Study Group

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