Shakespeare's use of the Renaissance Idea of Fatalism and Imagery in King Lear

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Shakespeare's use of the Renaissance Idea of Fatalism and Imagery in King Lear In a play about individual tragedies, fatalism plays an important part. Shakespeare effectively uses cosmic imagery to define his characters and to explore the idea of journeys linked to self-discovery by relating it to the imagery of rotating circles. Shakespeare uses Renaissance theology to explain character motivation. In the 16th century there was a great belief in astronomy. People believed in the harmony of the spheres and they were ruled by this idea of thhe natural alignment of the nine planets in their orbits. Shakespeare incorporates this into "King Lear" in highlighting Edgar and Gloucester's superstitious…show more content…
Edmund turns away from the belief of the alignment of planets and harmonies and towards nature as that is all he can be really sure of. The fact that Edmund doesn't believe in 'spherical predominance' proves that he is different to the society around him. Shakespeare takes every opportunity to emphasise this to distinguish 'evil' from 'good' in the play putting Edmund forward as a character who is out of harmony. When Gloucester predicts that 'eclipses in the sun and moon' suggesting a bad omen, Edmund casts aspersions on this idea, accusing the world of 'foppery', describing it as 'excellent' because he sees it as a weakness that he can exploit from his anti-human point of view. Edmund is also stating that people are fops or fools because they blame their evil and wrong doings, which is really part of their character 'our own behaviour', on the cosmos. Even though Edmund does rightly say that 'that when we are sick in fortune-often surfeits of our own behaviour-we make guilty of our disasters, the sun, the moon and the stars, as if we were villains on necessity, fools by heavenly compulsion' (Act I.2.117-26) He declares that men are fools if they evade responsibility for their actions by blaming the stars He ultimately decides that man is what he is by choice, not by the stars and that he is evil. He appreciates no fate, only free will. He says that all cosmic followers

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