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Role of Fortune in King Lear

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giulia orlandi

on 24 November 2016

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Transcript of Role of Fortune in King Lear

Role of Fortune in King Lear
What is Fortune?
Lear's Madness
Fortune vs Providence
Fortune is something that happens by chance, also known as luck, fate or destiny
A force/power unpredictably determines events/issues favorably or unfavorably
This power sustaining and guiding the human destiny is known as providence
Some also relate providence to the gods
Providence controls fate
Wheel of Fortune
"Is a notion that has its origins in medieval and ancient philosophy referring to the unpredictability of Fate" (Witmore)
Used to explain a turn of events
The goddess of the wheel of fortune is Fortuna, also known as the providence
Fortuna is blindfolded and spins the wheel randomly, changing the positions of people on the wheel
This results in fortunes rise and fall
Some people may suffer misfortune and others gain
King Lear's decisions rather than fortune plays a role in Shakespeare's play
King Lear
for the worst by causing Lear to go mad, bringing chaos to the Britain society and results in the good dying.
King Lear starts off the play with good fortune however, by the end this changed and he has bad fortune
His good fortune included being King and having the authority and title over anyone else
His bad fortune started when this title was taken away, he was kicked out of his castle, left in a storm and betrayed by his own flesh and blood
This turn of events leads Lear to go mad/crazy because he cannot believe the situation he is in
This turn of events that leads Lear to madness however, is not because of his fortune or destiny
Lear goes mad and suffers because of his own decision to give away his land to the wrong, greedy daughters; Goneril and Regan
King Lear is the cause for all his bad fortune and madness; he made his own destiny based on his foolish decision
Lear is the one who decided which daughters get his land based on their "love" and flattery for him
Fortuna or the wheel of fortune did not make him decide how to split his wealth
Instead, Lear was blinded and naive to the fact that his daughters (Goneril and Regan) who claimed to love him the most did not care for him at all
Whereas, Cordelia who truly loves Lear was banished by Lear
No one made this decision for Lear, it was his own doing and judgement to make this decision
The stars and fortune did not have any role
If Lear did not make the wrong decision and buy into Goneril and Regan's facade or banish and disown Cordelia (good daughter) he would not have gone mad
He would not have been disrespected as king, kicked out of his castle, or felt betrayed
Regan and Goneril caused all of Lear's madness because all they wanted was his power
Lear is the person who gave them this power and authority not fortune
Even though Lear is the one who made his own decision which caused his madness, himself and others seem to believe it was fortune
This is evident in the following quotes:
"No rescue? What, a prisoner? I am even the natural fool of fortune" (4.6.189-190)
"If fortune brag of who she loved and hated, one of them we behold" (5.3.280-281)
Both Kent and Lear blame fortune for his madness and claim Lear is hated by fortune and is "fortune's fool"
This means he is just a plaything of fortune and not on fortunes side
Again this is not true because Lear depicted his bad fortune when he made an unwise and blind decision
Fortune is not messing with him, everything that happens is a result of his selection
Chaos in Britain
The chain of being structures society and keeps society in order
This chain of being is a pyramid that ranks the order and classes of society
The chain is not meant to be disrupted and once it is chaos arises
The disruption to the chain of being causes chaos in society in
King Lear
King Lear falls from his place in the chain of being and places Regan and Goneril at the top instead and alters others perception of the chain such as Edmund and Oswald
This disruption of order and Lear losing his place at the top of the chain is not because of fortune
Fortune did not give Regan and Goneril power and authority to move up the chain and boss others around
Lear's decision of giving his daughters his land and thus giving them more power caused chaos and opportunity for the girls to take over the title and gain authority over the king
The Good Fall
The two people that are considered good throughout the play of
King Lear
are Cordelia and Lear
In the end these two people fall and die
Their deaths are not due to bad fortune and their destiny that Fortuna or the wheel determines
Their deaths are a result/outcome of Lear's decision to banish Cordelia and give Regan and Goneril his land
Cordelia dies due to the fact that Edmund captures them and tells a captain to hang her
Lear dies in result of Cordelia's death because he cannot bare the fact that Cordelia is gone and has overwhelming emotions
Secondary Sources

Romeo & Juliet
By: Giulia Orlandi
Taken from: Folger Shakespeare Library (in Citation)
Do you believe in fortune or that we make our own destiny based on our decisions ?
The Fool
the fool is the only wise one who realizes Lear has bad fortune because ironically he was foolish
This is proven when the fools says" Must make content with his fortunes fit" (3.2.76)
The fool says Lear should be at ease with his bad fortune because he is the one who decided it by being a fool and giving the uncaring daughters his land
Mr. Nobody
Proof that chaos has occurred due to Lear not fortune is in the following quotes:
"Who am I sir?" "My Lady's father" (1.4.75-76)
"My sister may receive it much worse, to have her gentlemen abused, assaulted" (2.2.144-145)
"Fortune good night; smile once more, turn thy wheel" (2.2169)
"Deny to speak to me" (2.4.87)
"I hold you but a subject of this war, not as a brother" (5.3.61-62)
Shows how society is out of place and people that should be below Lear such as Oswald, his daughters and Edmund are disrespecting him- shift in authority
Regan and Goneril are the cause for this chaos because all they care about is money and power-greed
Lear gave them the opportunity to shift the chain because he made the decision to grant them power
If Lear did not give his self-centered daughters land he would still have power and authority to keep Britain and its citizens in order
Fortune did not led Cordelia to her death and/or fate
If Lear did not banish Cordelia in the first place there would be no war between France and Britain and they would not have been captured and killed
Also, if Lear did not decide to give Regan and Goneril land he would have still been in charge opposed to having people like Edmund and his daughters overrule him
"And my poor fool is hanged" (5.3.305)
Lear associates Cordelia and the fool as one because just as the fool, Cordelia was aware Lear made a horrible decision and that would result badly- foreshadowing
Lear made his own fortune and was doomed from the start once he made a foolish decision
Fortune did not randomly throw things at Lear, he had everything coming because of his very own actions and decision
This decision led to the good dying and was bound to happen once Regan and Goneril were in charge
Romeo and Juliet is another one of Shakespeare's plays that the characters blame fortune for madness
However, just like in
King Lear
it was Romeo's decision to continue this love affair with Juliet even though she was a Capulet
"O, I am fotune's fool" (3.1.141)
Romeo, just like Lear, claims he is fortune's fool and is unlucky when both made their own decisions without anyone controlling them or choosing for them
Fortune played no role for both Lear and Romeo they decided their own destiny
Mr. Nobody is a movie that shows our decisions depict our future or destiny
This whole movie is based on choices and the events after one makes a choice
Nemo is faced with three decisions: go with his mother, father, or no one and make his own path
Whatever decision he makes will have a different outcome whether its his wife, kids, job, or how he dies
These outcomes and his faith occur based on which decision Nemo makes himself, not Fortune
Just as Lear had three options: Cordelia, Regan and Goneril, and whatever decision Lear made affected his future
In Lear's case he did not make a good decision resulting in bad events and outcomes
Lear's decision of which daughters to give his land to affects the characters in
King Lear
, not fortune for the worst
Bad things happen to Lear resulting in his madness
Causes a disruption in the great chain of being leading to a chaotic society
Results in good characters such as Lear and Cordelia dying
If Lear did not make a blind and dumb decision based on flattery and falseness no one would have suffered and the worst would not have occurred
Fortune played no role in
King Lear
and did not throw bad things at the characters
Everything broke out and were followed by Lear's actions and decisions
Works Cited
Mr. Nobody
. Directed by Jaco Van Dormael. Pan Européenne Production, 2009. DVD.

Shakespeare, William .
King Lear
. 2nd ed. Toronto : Harcourt, 1564-1616. Print

Shakespeare, William. “
Romeo and Juliet
.” Literature and Language. Illinois: McDougal, Littell and Company, 1992. Print

Witmore, Michael. "Folger Shakespeare Library."
The Wheel of Fortune
. N.p.. Web. 1 Dec 2013. <http://www.folger.edu/template.cfm?cid=4376>.

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