Study Guide

Pericles, Prince of Tyre Deception

By William Shakespeare

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We all know that appearances can be deceiving, right? Part of Pericles's journey is about learning to know the difference between outer appearances and inner worth.

When Pericles opens, our boy is a seriously lousy judge of character: he just assumes that what looks good on the outside will be just as beautiful on the inside. King Antiochus's wicked yet oh-so-gorgeous daughter is a good example.

Pericles also has to figure out how to read various situations in which he finds himself. He should probably be able to tell the difference between a dead wife and a wife who's just unconscious, right? Especially if he's going to be throwing "dead" bodies over the side of his ship in the middle of crazy storms and stuff. And yet it turns out that he was either wrong about his wife's state, or she was literally brought back from the dead.

What's the overall point? When Pericles finally learns how to read people and circumstances with more accuracy, it's a major mark of maturity for our hero.

Questions About Deception

  1. Why does King Antiochus come up with a riddle for the men who want to marry his daughter?
  2. Why does Pericles just assume Antiochus's daughter is worthy of being pursued?
  3. Why does Shakespeare make such a big deal out of Pericles's rusty armor? What kinds of assumptions do the knights at the joust make about our hero based on his appearance?
  4. Do you think Pericles is a good judge of character and difficult situations by the end of the play?

Chew on This

The rusty, janky armor that Pericles wears to the joust is a reminder that it's ridiculous to judge a person based on appearances alone.

For Pericles, part of growing up and becoming a mature, responsible king, father, and husband involves learning how to tell the difference between inner and outer beauty and worth.

Pericles, Prince of Tyre Deception Study Group

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