What is the difference between fate and destiny?

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gojsawyer | Teacher | (Level 1) Assistant Educator

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As dictionary-type definitions, “fate” and “destiny” are similar, interchangeable, and practically synonymous. Both words describe the events in a person’s life as controlled by an outside source. As such, a person’s actions or free will may have no influence on the decisions or guidance of the outside source.

In literature, “fate” and “destiny” have different connotations. The connotation of “fate” is, in general, negative. For example, a character may be fated to die. In contrast, the connotation of “destiny” is, in general, positive. For example, characters may be destined to love. Fate tends to be understood as predetermined, and cannot be guided in the realm of mortals. Destiny, although also predetermined, can be influenced somewhat by worldly intervention.

These generalizations may become complicated within a particular work of literature which, in fact, may add to the drama and heighten the interest for the reader or the audience. For example, in Shakespeare’s “Romeo and Juliet,” the lovers are described as “star crossed,” or ill fated, which is, of course, negative. However, from the viewpoint of the characters, they are destined to be together, and they use their free will to bring about the positive experience of their love. Their complete ignorance of fate as negative force heightens the drama of their tragic end in death. Enotes has several examples of fate explored in literature. Enjoy!

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arjun | College Teacher | (Level 1) Valedictorian

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I think there is not difference but it is described in tragedies. In Greek tragedies,there is described fat,it means everything is in the control of outsider source;whereas destiny is used by Shakespeare that character himself is responsible.Whatever is there in fate or destiny that is made by supernatural power or god.So both are same in sense of drama.

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