Study Guide

Lysimachus in Pericles, Prince of Tyre

By William Shakespeare

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Lysimachus starts out as a scuzzy politician (he's the Governor of Meteline) who wears disguises so that he can hit up the brothels in his city without being recognized. After one conversation with Marina, though, he decides to change his ways and embrace a life of virtue.

Don't look at us like that. It's what Shakespeare wrote. Are you gonna mess with Shakespeare?

Anyway, when Pericles shows up in Meteline, Lysimachus is the guy who introduces him to Marina, which kicks off the big, dramatic family reunion.

We'll admit it: Lysimachus has got us kind of scratching our heads and wondering what the heck Shakespeare was thinking. When he falls in love with Marina and asks Pericles for permission to marry her, we're sort of left to wonder why Pericles says yes right away. (After all, Pericles had to jump through a ton of hoops to get engaged to his own princess, right? Maybe that makes him sympathetic?) We're also kind of wondering why Marina would even want to be with a guy she met at a brothel, but okay, Shakespeare: whatever.

More seriously, though: this play is totally into ideas like transformation and redemption. We're probably supposed to imagine that Lysimachus is actually a good guy deep down; it just takes meeting Marina to bring him back to his senses. He's certainly pretty different from people like Antiochus and Bawd and Pander, who never see anything wrong with what they do.

So maybe it's best to just smile and nod and think, "Okay. If Marina's giving this guy a chance, then maybe he's not so bad. Good thing he got a second chance."

Lysimachus in Pericles, Prince of Tyre Study Group

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