King Lear

by

William Shakespeare

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King Lear: Personification 1 key example

Read our modern English translation.
Definition of Personification
Personification is a type of figurative language in which non-human things are described as having human attributes, as in the sentence, "The rain poured down on the wedding guests, indifferent... read full definition
Personification is a type of figurative language in which non-human things are described as having human attributes, as in the sentence, "The rain poured down... read full definition
Personification is a type of figurative language in which non-human things are described as having human attributes, as in the... read full definition
Act 2, scene 3
Explanation and Analysis—Lady Luck:

In Act 2, Scene 3, after Kent receives a letter from Cordelia, he settles down for a much-needed night of sleep and personifies his own fate:

All weary and o'rewatched,
Take vantage, heavy eyes, not to behold
This shameful lodging.
Fortune, good night. Smile once more; turn thy
wheel.

In this passage, Kent refers to "Fortune" as an entity rather than a concept. By personifying fortune as Fortune, Shakespeare taps into a tradition in literature reaching back at least as far as the Roman religious pantheon and the goddess Fortuna—the divine embodiment of luck. Kent’s appeal to Lady Luck reflects his own superstitions and would seem to imply his belief in a pre-determined wheel of fate and not in, say, human agency. In King Lear, questions of authority and power are paramount, and each character is beholden to someone—in some cases to themselves, in some cases to their monarch, and in some cases to a divine power. From this mess of conflicting allegiances and muddied senses of duty comes nothing short of total calamity, of course, and the blood-soaked ending of the play reveals the larger truth of Shakespeare’s tragic world: whether you pray to to a god or to Fortune herself, it is the fickle and petty impulses of human nature that will actually determine the outcome.