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Pericles is one of Shakespeare's plays that most closely deals wit the ideas of fate and the manner in which it can control human destiny. There is often a cruel irony to the manner in which individuals are treated by those forces which may be invisible but which are highly important to what occurs to them.
Fate has given Pericles, the young Prince of Tyre who wants to marry the daughter, the wisdom to instantly understand the answer to the King's riddle, and also the realization that he will die either way. If he answers correctly:- the King is having an incestuous relationship with his own daughter, he will be executed; if he answers incorrectly he will be executed according to the original rules of the riddle. This is one of the prime examples of an impossible situation set by Fate in which entrance into the agreement. As the Chorus puts it in the opening speech, "bad child; worse father" (I.1,27). The Chorus also suggests that it is heaven that has actually made the daughter so alluring:
Instantly understanding the answer to the riddle, Pericles pleads for more time and quickly exits the kingdom, hotly pursued by the King's assassins. Pericles is heading for home in Tyre, where he will surely be reasonably safe from the King, when he suffers from another apparent intervention by fate: a storm that wrecks his ships and washes him up on a shore.
The opening of Act II places Fate firmly in the role of a kind of devilish god, playing with the fortunes of men. Pericles crawls up onto the shore and says, "yet cease your ire, you angry stars of heaven" (II.1,1), and then continues with:
Just as Fate or "heaven" has put him in an impossible situation vis--vis the riddle which should have won him the hand of a prin ...
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