In 'King Lear', it is questionable whether the gods are ever in control of peoples fate  

  1. Gloucester blames personal disasters, such as  Edgars betrayal, on higher forces 

  • "these late eclipses in the sun and moon portend no good to us" 

  • AO4: There was a partial eclipse in 1590 and a more major one on October 12 1605 

  • AO4: Machiavelli's book The Prince discussed how ordinary people could believe that forces like god, fate or the stars controlled their lives, but rulers had to known better, and had to believe in their own free will. 

  • also expresses his later belief in the gods in terms of divine justice 

  • "like flies to wanton boys we are to the gods. They kill us for their sport." 

  • "is this the promised end?" - gods are in control of fate 

  • AO3ii: Alternatively, the gods are not there at all, as they seem ambivalent to peoples suffering, heightened when Shakespeare brings all dead bodies back on the stage.  

  • AO3ii: CRITIC JAN KOTT: "There is nothing, except the cruel earth, where man goes on his journey from the cradle to the grave." Nihilistic ending reflecting lack of gods. 

  • OEDIPUS: The gods are very much in control over peoples fate  

  • "you were marked out for suffering from the day you were born" (T) 

  • "haven't you learn'd to trust the gods?" (C) 

  • 2. Edmond mocks his fathers beliefs as a character of free will, suggesting lack of gods 

  • he believes fate is controlled by "our own behaviour" 

  • mockingly talks about his astrological charts while manipulating his father 

  • SP uses this so that the believers in the audience could point out that Edmond's behavior is entirely consistent with his time of birth.  

  • "my nativity was under Ursa major...i am rough and lecherous"  

  • and mirrors Gloucester's language to Edgar "these eclipses do portend these divisions." 

  • This shows the clash of beliefs and complexity of fate 

The younger, more opportunistic generation in 'King Lear' tend to dismiss the concept of fate and take their destinies into their own hands, suggesting free will is stronger than the gods  

  1. Edmond believes he has control over his destiny, demonstrated in his soliloquy where he rejects the idea that his *******y should prevent him from getting what he wants  

  • "I grow. I prosper." 

  • "Now gods, stand up for *******s!" - exclamative heightening confidence/control 

  • "let me, if not by birth, have lands by wit." suggesting wit and trickery overcomes the gods  

  • "base" "*******" plosives amplifies fury as well as control  

  • AO4: In Shakespeare's time, the


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