Fate and free will are often seen as two very comparable ideas. Fate is something that gives you opportunities and free will is what makes you decide to take the opportunity. Julius Caesar is a historical tragedy that highlights the causes and effects of the death of Julius Caesar. Early on in the play, Cassius tells Brutus that, The fault dear Brutus, is not in our stars, but in ourselves, that we are underlings (1.3.140-141). Cassius claims that the fault is not in our fate, but in our choices.
Many characters exhibit the use of their personal free will, but it turns to be costly. In Julius Caesar by William Shakespeare, Cassius’s statement continually turns out to be true.
First, the choices Brutus made led to his demise. Brutus was approached by Cassius and was told about the plot to kill Caesar. Brutus ultimately chose to take part in the assassination, simply stating, Not that I loved Caesar less, but I loved Rome more (3.
1.22-23). Deciding to kill Caesar eventually led to the Liberator’s civil war in the Roman Empire. The war led to him deserting Rome and going to Sardis and set up camp for his army. Finally, he met his demise in the second battle of Phillipi. His army had lost and he decided to commit suicide instead of being captured. He eventually found someone to hold his sword so he could run on it (5.5.28). This illustrates that Brutus’s choice to kill Caesar caused a chain of events that led to his death.
These events happened because when fate presented him the choice to kill Caesar, he accepted thinking everyone was going to accept the fact that someone had just killed their leader. Cassius’s statement is proven correct because Brutus exercised his free will and Brutus’s choices on behalf of his free will ended with him running into a sword. Brutus’s choice to kill Caesar was his own decision and his decision to kill Caesar led to a chain of events that ultimately led to his death.
Secondly, Caesar uses free will to refuse to change his destiny. Caesar’s fate had been clearly marked since the beginning of the play. Even as the soothsayer said, Beware the ides of March (1.2.18), Caesar did not listen. When Artemedorius had found out about the murder plot, he wrote a letter to Caesar telling him about the scheme. When Caesar got the letter and Artemedorious told him to open it immediately, Caesar ignores the letter and asks, What is the fellow mad? (3.1.10). Caesar was also warned by his wife, Calpurnia, to stay home because of how she interpreted the dream she had. She recalled, a lioness hath whelped in the streets (2.2.17) and squadrons and right form of war, Which drizzled blood upon the Capitol (2.2.2.-21). Calpurnia claimed that these dreams were predicting Caesar’s death, and despite hearing about the dreams and Calpurnia interpreting them correctly, he still listened to Decius and his explanation of him simply saying that others were just jealous of him. This illustrates that Caesar had many times he could have listened to others and possibly prevent his assassination. If Caesar had taken one of the opportunities he had to change his fate, he would have had a new fate, possibly as the first emperor of Rome. However, since he did not take any of these changes, Cassius’s statement is still in play. The fault wasn’t Caesar’s fate, but in his choices to ignore all of the warning signs multiple people had given him.
Cassius’s statement continually proves to be true. In this play, the characters blame fate for what eventually becomes of them. However, most of the characters make poor decisions in this play. Brutus makes decisions that cause his demise and Caesar uses free will to ignore the warning signs about his fate. Even though free will is exercised doesn’t mean fate doesn’t exist. Fate is often used as justification for the misuse of free will.