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Could you please help me with a thesis sentence for a comparative study of Julius...

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prince0295 | (Level 1) Honors

Posted January 20, 2012 at 10:11 PM via web

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Could you please help me with a thesis sentence for a comparative study of Julius Caesar and Oedipus Rex using the theme of fate vs free will.

I need to show what part society plays in developing this theme.

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noahvox2 | College Teacher | (Level 2) Educator

Posted January 21, 2012 at 1:44 AM (Answer #1)

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Both Sophocles' Oedipus the King and William Shakespeare's Julius Caesar touch upon issue of fate versus free will. In both tragedies, the playwrights involve society in the development of this issue. Both Sophocles and Shakespeare bring onto stage characters who serve as speakers for or represent a divine element. In Sophocles' play, Oedipus has heard the warnings about his fate from the Delphic oracle (i.e., Apollo) and society's representative of Apollo, the prophet Teiresias. Similarly, in Shakespeare's play, the title character hears warnings of the Soothsayer and the dream of his wife Calpurnia.

Despite these warnings from members of their respective societies, both Oedipus and Julius Caesar voluntarily press forward with their actions. Oedipus will not rest until he finds the killer of King Laius even "if he should become an honoured guest in my own home" (Ian Johnston translation). Similarly, Caesar will keep his appointment with the Roman senate, despite the warnings issued by prophets and members of his own household. Thus, both Oedipus and Caesar hear warnings about their respective fates, but both men, of their own free will, try to avoid what the religious representives or members of their own households warn them against.

Addendum: Comparison between Oedipus' wife Jocasta and Caesar's wife Calpurnia seems useful for this question. Calpurnia's dream warns Caesar about his impending doom, whereas Jocasta urges Oedipus to drop his investigation of Laius' murder:

                                  Oh, you unhappy man!
May you never find out who you really are! (Ian Johnston translation)

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