Fate vs. Free Will in Julius Caesar

Topics: Julius Caesar, Roman Republic, Augustus Pages: 3 (933 words) Published: May 22, 2005
In William Shakespeare's play, Julius Caesar, two interesting forces, fate and free will, are shown competing for prominence over the other. Fate was exemplified in the many prophecies and omens the characters viewed throughout the play. Free will was the characters abilities to overcome and defeat their fate. Many characters have struggles with the power of their free will overcoming their fate, namely Caesar, Cassius, and Brutus. Although in the end all three of those characters succumb to their fate, Shakespeare shows that there is a delicate equilibrium between the two forces.

Of the three men, Caesar's fate seemed most obvious to him and to the reader. However, Caesar used his free will in many instances to in large part ignore his destiny, which fate has presented. On one occasion in the beginning of the play, a soothsayer warns Caesar to "Beware the ides of March" (I. i. 23). Caesar pays more attention to the appearance of the soothsayer then to the warning; and, finding the appearance not to his liking, Caesar ignores the warning and passes him off as a dreamer. Later, on the Ides of March, he confronts the soothsayer, and says that "the ides of March have come" (III. i. 1). Caesar was confident that the soothsayer was wrong that he did not even consider what the rest of the day had in store for him. Earlier that day, Caesar had almost made a choice to heed the omen of his fate presented to Calphurnia in her dream. However, his pride presented itself as Decius Brutus gave him an alternate way to interpret the dream. Instead of viewing it correctly as Calphurnia had shown him, he used the lame explanation provided by Decius so that he would not appear afraid before the Senate. Even on the trip to the Senate, he had an opportunity to see the exact plan for his death. But his patriotism, or possibly his false humility, propelled him to say "What touches us ourself shall be last served" (III. i. 8). Through all of these times where his free will could have...
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