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as you like it

In As You Like It, Act I, Scene 2, what is meant by "mock the good housewife Fortune from her wheel"?


The Roman goddess Fortuna was responsible for bestowing the items of luck (good or bad) on humans. She was popularly shown as being veiled and blind. She represented the capriciousness (sudden, unpredictable, erratic, changeable) of life. One of the goddess Fortuna's roles was that she was also a goddess of fate. In the Middle Ages, Fortuna came to be associated with the Wheel of Fortune, an idea inspired by the second book of Boethius' Consolation.

In As You Like It, Celia says to Rosalind in Act I, Scene 2:

Let us sit and mock the good housewife Fortune from her wheel, that her gifts may henceforth be bestowed equally.

In this quotation, Fortuna is called "Fortune." Also, "mock" is used in its sense of to imitate or to counterfeit. Celia is suggesting that to amuse themselves, they should be counterfeits of Fortune at her Wheel of Fortune so that, under their use of it, Fortune's gifts would be distributed evenly, without erratic unpredictable caprice. Fortuna, being veiled and blind, would spin her wheel and whatever gift turned up, whether good or bad, would be given to whomever it fell to. Celia proposes that she and Rosalind change that capriciousness.

[Read more about Fortuna in the article "Fortuna."]

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