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It has been said that in Shakespeare's tragic plays, "character is destiny." What does this expression mean? |

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As Stephen Holliday has already said, the tragedies in Shakespeare tend to be based in some key flaws on the part of its protagonist. More generally, we might say that Shakespeare's dramas tend to be character driven, in that the outcomes of the plot ultimately tend to derive from the personalities and decisions of the characters themselves.

Take a character like King Lear: an aging monarch that, in an act of foolish vanity, decides to divide his Kingdom between his daughters, in preference to the ones who would most flatter him. This fateful decision (preferring those who offer empty words over the one who offers genuine loyalty) leaves him impoverished and cast out, and the events of the play follow from there.

We could also look at Othello, where again the tragedy stems from the characters themselves, with Othello trusting the manipulative Iago, who wishes to destroy him, over all others (including his wife Desdemona).

Shakespeare had a gift for writing complex, multifaceted characters, and these complex personalities often play a decisive role in shaping the destinies they receive.

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