Study Guide

Cleon in Pericles, Prince of Tyre

By William Shakespeare

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Cleon is the Governor of Tharsus and the husband of that nasty Dionyza. Like a lot of public officials in this play, the dude is a lousy leader, and he doesn't know how to take care of his people.

When we first bump into him, he's boohooing about how all of his people are starving as a result of a recent famine. That's when our boy Pericles comes along and brings the townspeople a bunch of food and water. Cleon is so grateful that he agrees to raise Pericles's newborn daughter Marina (who's just lost her mother) while Pericles travels around.

Things seem to be going along smoothly until Dionyza gets all jealous of Marina's beauty and tries to have her killed. What does Cleon do when he finds out about it? Not a darn thing. Are we surprised? Not really. The guy seems to have good intentions but when push comes to shove, he doesn't take very good care of the people who depend on him.

Why does any of this matter? According to Shakespeare, being a lousy governor is pretty much the same as being a lousy father figure.

Cleon in Pericles, Prince of Tyre Study Group

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