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Comparing Fortune and Nature in Canterbury Tales and As You Like It

Fortune and Nature in Canterbury Tales and As You Like It

The medieval world was a complicated place, full of the “chain of being,” astrological influences, elements and humors. A man’s life was supposedly influenced by all manner of externals acting by destiny or chance. “Fortune” and “Nature” are two terms that include many of these factors, representing chance and inborn qualities. Shakespeare mentions the two frequently, most notably in an extended dialogue between Rosalind and Celia in As You Like It. Geoffrey Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales also provide many examples of Fortune and Nature’s combinations in human affairs. His Pardoner’s Tale, Miller’s Tale, and Wife of Bath’s Tale all depend on the effects of these two metaphysical forces.

The Host wails that “The yiftes of Fortune and of Nature / Been cause of deeth to many a creature.” (Pardoner’s Tale, ll. 9-10). And so it proves, literally, in the Pardoner’s Tale. The three young men, upon finding the treasure-trove of gold florins, explain that “This tresor hath Fortune unto us yiven / In mirthe and jolitee oure lif to liven.” (ll. 491-2). Fortune has guided them on their quest, whether in the tavern as the funeral happens to pass by or on the road as they encounter the immortal old man who knows of Death’s trove; and Fortune, too, causes their downfall, as “it happed him par cas / To take the botel ther the poison was, / And drank, and yaf his felawe drinke also, / For which anoon they storven bothe two.” (ll. 597-600). Yet Nature assists in their demise: all “riotoures three” have already been established as drunkards, so it seems only “natural” for them to celebrate with the wine carried by their erstwhile comrade. The free-wheeling, physical, life-lovin…

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…and characteristic behavior, or creates a hero by letting his Nature triumph over the Fortune that has determined his previous actions. These interactions could, perhaps, be viewed merely as clever use of what we moderns would call “character” and “plot.” Yet viewing them in terms of Fortune and Nature puts us more firmly in the medieval mind-view that characterizes so much of the Tales and lends them so much of their charm.

You may want to begin your paper with the quotes below.

“The Yiftes of Fortune And of Nature”

“Fortune reigns in gifts of the world,

not in the lineaments of Nature….

When Nature hath made a fair creature,

may she not by Fortune fall into the fire?”

— As You Like It, I.ii.41-4.

“The yiftes of Fortune and of Nature

been cause of deeth to many a creature.”

— Pardoner’s Tale, ll. 9-10.

A Midsummer Night’s Dream Essay: Aspects of Love

Love in William Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream

Love is a very inaccurate word, as it can be used in many different ways. It can be used to describe an object which one particularly likes, or to describe ones feelings towards a person. However it does not rest at just these two points. Love for someone can be in a material sense (sexual), or in a more moral sense for example.

Some of the various aspects of love are mentioned In William Shakespeare’s, Midsummer Night’s Dream. Here we are presented with the various characters, and their conflicts, which all have something to do with love.

The most important relationship in the play is that between Titania, the queen of the fairies, and Oberon, who is the king of the fairies. Oberon seems to love Titania in the sense that he wishes to dominate her, and also be her king. Their relationship is about authority and dominance.

After a quarrel Titania does not wish to have anything to do with Oberon anymore. Oberon is angry at this, and takes out his anger on Titania, by placing a spell on her. He squeezes a drop from a special flower onto her eyes, which will make her love the ugliest beast she is to come across. This then happens to be Bottom the weaver, whose head is turned to that of an donkey. Through Oberon and Titania’s little dispute, the entire world seems to be tipped upside down. Oberon is generous when it comes to dishing out his love potion, which confuses everything for the “real people” (in other words not meaning the fairies).

Amongst the people, there are also some disputes, that can be directly related to love. Lysander and Demetrius are both in love with Hermia, who only loves…

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…for who he was, but for what she saw. Their relationship had nothing to do with a romantic and passionate love, but mainly consisted out of lust and desire. Titania desired Bottom, and was obsessed over him as a result of the magic potion.

So by A Midsummer Nights Dream we can see some of the many aspects of love, and are familiarised with them. The various relationships between the “real” characters, and the fairies (king and queen). Of course there are a few more aspects one might mention, however many are very similar. Love basically consists out of many different factors. There should be the love of a person that comes from the heart, but there is also a side of you that desires the other person in a physical way. Love is not just a simply definable word, but love is a highly complicated act of expressing ones feelings towards another person.

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