Pericles’ rusty armour
The ‘honest’ fishermen that Pericles encounters after surviving the ship wreck pull the armour up in a net. This was bequeathed to Pericles by his father and is, therefore, of noble origins although superficially it may no longer appear so. As with Pericles, the armour signifies a form of noble goodness and symbolizes the moral coda of the play. It is not the outer appearance that is deemed to matter, but the virtue inside.
The storms at sea that Pericles encounters are fitting plot devices that allow, for example, for his lowly appearance at the court of Simonides. Because of the ship wreck, he has only his rusty armour to fight in and, when he wins, his courage and prowess are exemplified all the more.
This use of nature also gives emphasis to the idea of being at the mercy of the gods. When nature dominates, the insignificance of humans becomes more apparent. It should be noted that Pericles survives these storms and this may also be interpreted as a sign of his praiseworthy moral outlook.
When Pericles wishes to marry the daughter of Antiochus, Antiochus sets him the task of solving a riddle before he may do so. The riddle becomes a double bind, however, because the solution reveals Antiochus’s incestuous relationship with his daughter and he does not want this to be revealed.
There are echoes of the tale of Oedipus inherent in this story, which gives it another layer of meaning, and the use of the riddle also allows Pericles to be perceived as all the more heroic as he not only solves it, but escapes from Antioch before the king is able to silence him.