Julius Caesar 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 driven by this desire, he went out of his way to kill Caesar. Later on, Cassius changes his mind and sees that the gods are not looking upon their mission too favorably.
He died by his own sword, seeing that the eagles presented his fate which was too much to overcome. Brutus always believed that bad things would not happen to good people. Brutus went along with the flow of things and accepted whatever happened. This requires Cassius to go to extreme measures to convince Brutus to join the conspirators. Brutus’ form of death was pure apathy. He dreamed of Caesar’s ghost and being reunited with him at the battle of Philippi. In the end of the battle, he falls upon his own sword and fulfills his dream.
Shakespeare gives off the message that failing to acknowledge your fate will lead to permanent consequences such as death. Cassius accepted his fate in the end. Brutus was never strong with using his free will, but he died like Cassius. Caesar’s control over his free will was just as weak as Brutus, but Caesar took a nobler approach at defying it. All three of their deaths show an example of how you should use your free will very carefully and if you let your guard down…you fate will get the better of you and being careless will cost you greatly.