Essay about Fate vs. Free Will in Julius Caesar

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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…show more content…
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 helped Caesar avoid his fate, he instead chose to ignore them, ultimately leading to his downfall. Cassius, up to the end of the play, was very aware of his fate and took the largest strides to overcome that. This is due to the fact that Cassius followed the Epicurean philosophy, which believes that the gods do not involve themselves directly in the fate of man. This belief was highlighted when he told Brutus “Men at some time are masters of their fates: the fault, dear Brutus, is not in our starts, but in ourselves, that we are underlings” (I. ii. 139-141). Because of this belief, he never resigned himself to live in the world in its current state. He always felt that there was something he could do to better his standing in life. This diligent effort to better himself led Caesar to comment “such men as he…are very dangerous” (I. ii. 209-210). Cassius’ role in the play was using his free will to overcome the fate that would come true, the fate that Caesar was one day going to become emperor. Because he was so driven by the desire to overcome this fate, he was

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