Friday, December 12, 2008

It's Your Destiny

Do you believe in fate? The characters in Shakespeare's Julius Caesar do. Fate and superstition play integral roles in the development of the plot.

In the time of Caesar, the plebeians, commoners who were neither affluent nor educated, relied heavily on omens and augury to predict their futures. Believing that higher powers controlled every aspect of their lives, they felt that their free will had little effect on the ultimate outcome.

Shakespeare refers to all kinds of portents in his play. A soothsayer warns Caesar to "beware the Ides of March". Calphurnia, Caesar's wife, begs him to stay home from the Senate after dreaming of fountains flowing with Caesar's blood. Brutus is visited by the ghost of Julius. On the night the conspirators met to plan the assassination, nature presaged a catastrophe with its thunder, lightning, unusual animal sightings, and even earthquakes.

While some might argue that the Senators plotted of their own free will, who is to say that the conspiracy was not all a part of a grander scheme that entwined their fates with the tragic fall of the tyrannical Caesar?

Shakespeare might have been on to something. Is anything really of our own free will? Is it possible to truly control one's destiny?

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