Date of Degree
William R. Elton
Dramatic Literature, Criticism and Theory | English Language and Literature
This study traces the development and changes in the depiction of the goddess Fortune in a selected group of dramas written between 1592 and 1678: the six English versions of the tragedy of Antony and Cleopatra. The concepts surrounding the goddess Fortune and her place in any culture change with the idea of the individual's ability to shape his own destiny. In the seventeenth century in particular Fortune becomes increasingly connected to questions of personal identity and what Stephen Greenblatt has called "self-fashioning," so that by 1678 the subject of John Dryden's All for Love is not the quest for the Fortune of Love as its title indicates, but instead the characters are concerned with answering the question "Who am I?" The main change in the depiction of Fortune occurs after the reign of James, when Fortune becomes a ruling force in man's life, and the individual seems to have no redress against the order she imposes on his life. This tyranny of Fortune is perceived as good, however, because it imposes order on man's life as opposed to the chaos of nature, best described by Thomas Hobbes in his influential Leviathan (1651).
Mallery, Mary Aileen, "The Changing Face of Fortune in Six English Versions of the Tragedy of Antony and Cleopatra" (1990). CUNY Academic Works.