56 pages 1 hour read

William Shakespeare

As You Like It

Fiction | Play | Adult | Published in 1599

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Symbols & Motifs

Fortune

Fortune affects the characters in one sense because of the link between birth and fate. For the male characters, particularly for the two dukes and for Orlando and Oliver, birth relates to inheritance and the wealth they enjoy. Whoever happens to be born first has immediate claim to the family inheritance, although as Duke Frederick shows by usurping his brother, that inheritance is not necessarily secure.

Fortune is initially a matter of critique to Rosalind and Celia, who have grown up under the best possible circumstances as ladies of court. Of Fortune, Rosalind says, “her benefits are / mightily misplaced, and the bountiful blind woman / doth most mistake in her gifts to women” (I.2.34-36). To the ladies, Fortune gives women a poor lot in life, and often she combines good fortune with misfortune. This foreshadows Rosalind’s own misfortune in being banished, when she had previously had the good fortune of living in court privilege.

In Act II, Fortune is again a matter of critique as well as comedy when Jaques reports his first meeting with the fool

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