Fate is inevitable, unavoidable, and ultimately ends in death. In The Tragedy of Julius Caesar by William Shakespeare, multiple characters experience a deadly fate, but it is not completely unavoidable. People also have control of their own lives and the ability to make decisions, affecting them and others. Shakespeare uses characters in this play to illustrate the theme of fate and to project how easily it can be tampered with. Fate, as a theme in this play, is involved in many of the characters’ lives. Fate is dependent on a person’s actions.
Julius Caesar is a character who inflicts death upon himself. Caesar ruled in the triumvirate with two powerful men, and when it came crashing down, Caesar was the only one lucky enough to stay alive. He had been involved in the death of another member, Pompey, whom was loved by the Romans: O you hard hearts, you cruel men of Rome, Knew you not Pompey? (1:1:38-39). Caesar is now taking Pompey’s place, and was being celebrated, when he killed the people’s ruler. If Caesar hadn’t been so ambitious for power, he wouldn’t have gone into battle with Pompey and ultimately taken the throne from him. Then, when he is awarded with the power, he turned down the crown three times to seem humble, He put it by thrice, every time gentler than other; and at every putting by mine honest neighbors shouted (1:2:228-230). Most people still applauded him, but others saw his bluff. If Caesar wouldn’t have been as greedy for the power, he would have been alive at the end of the play. The reader sees Caesar’s downfall play out. After killing a respected member of the government and taking over, there is bound to be criticism. The senators begin to turn on Caesar, just like he does against Pompey.
All the senators join to justly plot the murder of Caesar, but they don’t complete it without consequences. Brutus, a well-respected man of Rome, believed in the mission to put Caesar to rest, And therefore think him of a servant’s egg Which hatched, would as his king grow mischievous, And kill him in the shell (2:1:32-34). The conspirators do not feel as though Caesar is trustworthy as a ruler; he did turn on Pompey. The belief is that Rome will be a much better place if Caesar is not part of it. Some conspirators had other reasons, on top of Caesar being selfish and greedy, that led them to participate in killing Julius Caesar. For example, Metellus Cimber, a conspirator, asks Caesar one last time before he dies, to let his brother come back: Is there no voice more worthy than my own, to sound more sweetly in great Caesar’s ear For the repealing of my banished brother? (3:1:49-51). Caesar had banished his brother from Rome prior to the setting of the play and Metellus seems to hold a grudge about it throughout the plot. Caesar is put to death in order to prove a point that Rome and its’ citizens would be better off without a ruler like him. Participating in the murder soon comes back to haunt each conspirator and lead to the formation of their own fates.
The conspirators all face the repercussions for their actions. Brutus allowed Antony to speak at Caesar’s funeral. This was a big mistake. He uses sarcasm to address the conspirators as being honorable throughout his speech. By rallying the citizens up, together with Antony they can riot against each of the conspirators. They even go so far as to kill an innocent man with the same name as Cinna, Cinna the poet. A group of citizens carry Cinna the poet off the stage and one can only imagine what they would do to a real conspirator: Tear him! Tear him! (They attack him) Come, brands, ho! To Brutus’, to Cassius’! Burn all! Some to Decius’ house, and some to Casca’s; some to Ligarius’! (3:3:35-38). The people are finally giving all the senators what they believe is just. Brutus should have listened to Cassius and decided not to let Antony speak because now every Roman citizen wants the conspirators dead, and all eventually face that. Brutus could have saved himself by refusing to join in the first place, they all could have. But all of them participated and must deal with the consequences. Before the battle begins, Brutus tells Cassius, But this same day Must end that work the ides of March begun (5:1:112-113). The conspirators completed their mission on the 15th of March, and then their fates were altered. Caesar made decisions and acted in ways that formed his fate; the Conspirators should have seen their death coming.
Life is full of choices, each choice that is made contributes to a person’s fate. Caesar killed Pompey and was a selfish ruler, for his short time in power. The conspirators saw the truth in this and decided to act on Caesar’s bad ruling capabilities. But, by killing Caesar, they too changed their own fates. Any little action made by a person can be remembered and held against them. What someone thinks is unfair or just may not appear that way to everyone. It only takes one small decision to change a person’s fate. Keep in mind every time a decision is going to be made, that people will remember it.
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