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Character Is Fate

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  • September 2010
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Character is Fate – Essay

“A man’s character is his fate” once said the Greek philosopher Heraclites. By this he meant that our personalities and actions shape the outcomes of our lives and therefore our destiny. This statement opposes the traditional view that man’s fate is determined by an external force (name it god or even chance). This argument is basically one of faith: do you believe we shape our own futures by how we act, or are our lives programmed in a certain unchangeable way? In other words, do you believe in an omnipotent being that has our lives or at least our futures predetermined? As we shall see, a man’s character defines his life (as his behaviour, emotions and actions determine his daily life), but I believe that our fate is predetermined and unchangeable and that there is divine intervention, therefore a matter that we have no control over. To support the fact that we might be able to define our daily life but not our fates or futures there is the unanswered question of ‘why do bad things happen to good people?’ Furthermore, character is not the only aspect in deciding a man’s fate: external events (chance and Nature) will also alter the processes and outcomes of our lives. Heraclites and Novalis (German philosopher)[1] had an interesting argument, but unfortunately one that only applies in a utopian world.

Many people believe that a person’s personality determines their place in life, therefore supporting Heraclites’ idea. Basically, this suggests that depending on how a person lives, what he does and how he deals with events the outcome of his life will be shaped accordingly. For example, in Thomas Hardy’s ‘The Mayor of Casterbridge’, we understand that Mr. Henchard’s personality flaws (his temper and his naivety especially) lead him slowly to worse situations, which finally end up in him not wanting to be remembered once he is dead. On the other hand, Farfrae, a character which is much more appealing, sensitive, humane and kind is...