Fate vs. Free Will
In Julius Caesar, two forces compete for dominance--fate and free will. Fate was portrayed as prophecies and omens. Free will was the character’s ability to overcome it--which they tried and didn’t. Caesar, Cassius, and Brutus have troubles overcoming their fate in the play. In the end of the play, all three of them fall to their fate--this is Shakespeare’s way of showing the fine line between the two.
Caesar’s fate was the most obvious to him and the readers. In the beginning we see how Caesar uses his power over his own fate by ignoring the soothsayer in the crowd that warns him of the ides of March. On the ides of March, Caesar confronts the soothsayer and tells him that it is now the day he was warned of but he doesn’t what the rest of the day holds for him. Earlier that day, Calphurnia tells Caesar about her dream and how everyone went to his statue to bathe their hands in the blood coming out of the statue in her dream (Act 2, sc. ii, 13-26). Decius Brutus goes to Caesar’s home and when he finds out that Caesar would not be going, he retells Calphurnia’s dream as a blessing upon him. On Caesar’s way to the Senate, Artemidorus attempts to warn him and show him the exact plan of his murder, but Caesar refuses since he is filled with pride at the moment. Through all the times that Caesar’s free will could have helped him save his own life--he chose to ignore it, leading to his death.
Cassius was very aware of his own fate up to the very end. He took the largest precautions to overcome it. Cassius believed in the Epicurean philosophy (gods do not involve themselves directly into the fate of man), which was highlighted when his famous fate quote was said to Brutus (Act 1, sc. ii, 139-141). Cassius thought that he could always do something to make his current position in life better. Cassius desire was to make sure that Caesar would not become emperor, but Caesar’s fate was to become the emperor. Because he was so...
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