"Julius Caesar" Theme

LILLIE DRAVIS

Many characters battle the concept of fate vs free will in Shakespeare's Julius Caesar. As first proclaimed by the Soothsayer, an unavoidable event would occur on the Ides of March. His omen contends that this event will come regardless of all other events. This line is delivered by a Soothsayer, the bridge from the supernatural to the mortal world. Here Shakespeare is stating that humans have no control over their destiny and it was already determined by the heavens. This concept of fate can also be seen in the quote from Calpurnia, "Your wisdom is consumed in confidence. Do not go forth to-day: call it my fear That keeps you in the house, and not your own" (Act II, sc ii, lines 1028-1030). Caesar's wife has a nightmare of blood the night before Caesar is to go to the snate. This serves as an omen of death. Calpurnia had received a sign from the heavens of the future. Although, as a reader, it is inferred that if Caesar did not show then another plan to kill him would develop.


But contradicting a previous notion, Cassius says, "Men at some time are masters of their fates: The fault, dear Brutus, is not in our stars, But in ourselves" (Act 1, sc ii, lines 230-232). Differing from the point of view of the Soothsayer, Cassius believes that the heavens do not contribute to moral life with a greater same power as men; men need to take charge to make the changes they desire. Cassius is using his belief (or a persuasive poetic line) in the context to call Brutus to action. Cassius and Brutus can justify carrying out the murder of Caesar if the gods will not do it. They would be at fault for not taking appropriate measures.