Every once in a while, on a Thursday, I post an old school assignment that I have written as a “throwback thursday” type thing when I have an assignment I’ve found that seems interesting enough to post. This time, I have an essay I wrote in nineth grade about the concepts of destiny and free will in Shakespeare’s writing.
A Study in Choices*
Destiny: The concept that our lives are predetermined at birth, and will take their course no matter what actions we take against it. Free will: The idea that we have a choice in all we do in our lives, and that our lives are our own and ours alone. These two ideas are a core concept in humanities view of the world, one addressed in many movies, books, plays, and poems. There is no definitive answer to which is true, as with many things in life. People have different opinions. Shakespeare for example, believed in destiny as evidenced in Jacques’ monologue of “The Seven Ages of Man” in the play As You Like It. Unlike Shakespeare, Robert Frost believed we have a choice in what we do and who we become. I tend to agree with Frost, I believe we have free will.
As I stated above, Shakespeare believed in the concept of destiny. This we can tell by the way Jacques recites the stages of life in a pessimistic way, using words like “puking’ and “whining”. Jacques was of the opinion that you lived, you aged, and you died. That everyone went through the same thing. Shakespeare also wrote the play Romeo and Juliet the title characters of which are considered soulmates, another concept tied to destiny. That thought that there is one person in all the world you are “meant to be with”. On the other hand, Frost believed in making choices and free will. In his poem “The Road Not Taken”, Frost speaks of a “diverged path” that he could not see the end of through the “yellow wood”. The split path symbolizes the choice there is to make, the woods obscuring the view of the path symbolizes the fact that we can never know the full extent or consequences of a choice until it is made, and how in some cases, you cannot turn back. He also speaks of his choice “making all difference”, meaning that your choice affects your life, destiny doesn’t call the shots.
Now, while I can see why people believe in destiny, I do not. Because yes, everyone is born, lives, and dies. But that isn’t destiny, its biology. To believe in destiny, you must believe in a god or omnipotent force of the universe to write that destiny. Though religions such as Christianity believe that God gave them free will, so then destiny does not apply. Far too many things are affected by individual choice to call every act of random chance a great plan from the universe other wise known as your destiny. At least in my opinion. But I can see how belief in destiny can be comforting, because it means that no matter how poorly or well you do in life, everything is already figured out for you. You wouldn’t have to worry about making sure you have a perfect future, because if you are meant to have it, then you will.
I believe in the fact we all make our own choices because day in and day out we make choices both big and small. And yes, others people such as friends and family influence those choices, but we has humans are still making them. We have free will. Our choices have consequences and rewards. And we are all responsible for what we do and who we are. We chose everything from what groceries to buy to a career. Now in a few years we will have to pick a college. Pick a career for ourselves. We can’t always control every circumstance and bad situation in our lives, but we do chose how it affects us, and own attitudes about things.
All in all, I believe in free will and the fact we control our own lives and make our own choices, just as Frost did as evidenced in his poem “The Road Not Taken”. Shakespeare took the opposite view, he believed in destiny as shown by the monologue “The Seven Ages of Man’ in the play As You Like It. I think we all make ours choices, so we can’t blame it on the universe and call it destiny. After all, if we weren’t in control of our own choices, then wouldn’t we always make the right ones?
*Allusion to Sherlock Holmes “A Study in Scarlet”.