Fools of Fortune
Explain the following quote adapted form Beards’ review of Fools of Fortune: All characters, “even minor characters fall victim to forces they neither understand nor control, “fools of fortune” to the end - Fools of Fortune introduction. ” William Trevor’s Fools of Fortune narrates the story of the Quintons, an Anglo-Irish family living in West Cork during the Irish War of Independence. All the members of this family seem to be doomed to an unfortunate future, thus they can be considered fools of their own fortune. The title may allude to the fact that this family could not escape from both this violent war and its consequences.
Thus, they were “fools of fortune” because they could not control fate. That is, the War of Independence and its repercussions were forces beyond the family’s control that caused the Quintons’ fate to be ill-fated eternally. On the one hand, “fools of fortune” refers to how the Quintons were affected by their condition as an Anglo-Irish family. First of all, their lives would be severely affected by supporting either the English or the Irish. They had to choose which side to support. If they had remained loyal to their class, by not supporting Michael Collin’s cause, they would have been subject to Republican’s attacks.
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However, Quinton’s support to the Republicans unleashed a series of tragic events on the family. Eventually, by supporting the Irish cause they were violently attacked by British forces, which brought about devastation and demise to this family by burning their stately home and killing most of its members. Therefore, this Anglo-Irish family was not able to escape from destruction because its’ destiny was shaped by their English descendency, which meant problem in an Irish territory during the 1920s. That is to say, no decision that the Quintons took would have saved them from suffering.
They were trapped by history and politics and there was no way they could escape from them. On the other hand, “fools of fortune” may refer to the expression used by Willie’s father when he used to address any hapless citizen of Kilneagh. However, almost at the end of this novel, this expression is uttered by Marianne, Willie’s English cousin, who had a daughter with Willie but had not been able to tell him because he had gone into exile for over forty years. Marianne says “That moment when he (Willie) stood at his mother’s bedroom door and saw her dead.
After each brief moment there was a little chance for any one of us as there was for Kilneagh after the soldiers’ wrath. Truncated lives, creatures of the shadows. Fools of Fortune, as his father would have said; ghosts we became”. Her words may refer to how the Quintons’ lives were lengthy affected by the Irish war that they could not live happily even when the war was over. Thus, when Willie had finally found happiness in his life, for he fell in love with his cousin Marianne, tragedy struck again since his mother committed suicide years after her husband and two daughters had been killed by the British forces.
Eventually, Willie avanged his family’s death by killing Seargant Rudkin. As a result, Willie went into exile abandoning Marianne and his daughter. For her part, Marianne regretted not been able to meet Willie again, and their daughter, Imelda, became gradually insane since she learnt about his father’s past events in a traumatic way. In short, the phrase “fools of fortune” is also present in the novel as an expression uttered by Willie’s father, and later on by Marianne, to talk about wretched citizens of Kilneagh.
In short, the Quintons became victim to a tragic destiny for being an Anglo-Irish family living in Ireland during a time of war against the British. They were “fools of fortune” because fate was something they cannot control. Moreover, the title reflects an expression usually pronounced by the characters whenever talking about ill-fated people. Hence, this expression can also be relevant to the Quintons’ characterization because their fortune was tragically changed by the warfare, that is, by forces beyond their control.