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Julius Caesar

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In the play Julius Caesar by William Shakespeare there are two forces at work fate and freewill and throughout the play they are both fighting for control over man. Fate was shown in the many prophecies and omens that the characters viewed throughout the entire play. Free will as defined in the play is the ability to overcome fate. Although in the end all three of the characters succumbed to their fate, Shakespeare shows again that there is a delicate balance between fate and human free will.

Of the three main characters in the play Julius Caesar, Cassius and Brutus, Caesar's fate was the most obvious to him and to the readers. Caesar though in many cases used free will to ignore fate or destiny. For example in the begging of the play a soothsayer says," beware the ides of March" (I.i.23). Caesar exercises his free will by choosing to ignore this man. Then later during the ides of March, Caesar again sees the soothsayer and says, "The ides of March have come" (III.I.1). Caesar was confident that he had nothing to worry about. Also, later on that day Caesar almost made the decision that would heed the omen of his fate presented to Calphurnia in her dream. But because of Caesar being full of pride he presented the dream to Brutus who gave an alternate way to interpret that dream. Caesar uses Brutus' interpretation of the dream that way he would not appear afraid in front of the senate. Even when Caesar was on his way to the senate he had the opportunity to see the exact plan for his death. But again because of his pride and patriotism he ended up just saying, "What touches us our self 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.

Up to the end of the play Cassius was very aware of his fate and tried hard to overcome it. Cassius acted this way because he followed the Epicurean Philosophy. Epicurean Philosophy states that the gods do not involve themselves directly in the fate of man. Cassius' belief was shown greatly when he stated to Brutus, " Man at some time are masters of their fates; that fault, dear Brutus, is not in our stars, but in ourselves that we are underlings" (I.ii.139-141). Because of this Brutus never resigned himself to live in the world during its current state. Because of Cassius' effort to better himself Caesar was led to comment, "Such men as he... are very dangerous" (I.ii.209-210). Cassius's role in the play was using his free will to overcome the fate that would come true, the fate that Caesar would become Emperor of Rome. Being driven by the desire to overcome this fate, he was able to achieve all obstacles that came his way and even achieved killing Caesar.



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