Examples of free will vs. determinism/predestination in world literature. What works support one or the other?

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e-martin | College Teacher | (Level 1) Educator Emeritus

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Oedipus Rex is a work that directly explores the idea of free will vs. fate. In this play by Sophocles, the protagonist strives to avoid a fate that has been given to be by prophecy. Part of the drama of the play is created by the tension in the question as to whether or not this is possible. 

Absalom, Absalom! is another work that comes to mind. This novel by William Faulkner presents a set of characters that have been shaped by history. The motivations of the characters are questioned in a dense and over-lapping set of narratives in such a way that it remains rather unclear whether or not the characters have any choice to do what they do. They may be dominated by a blood-fate, or may be free to choose to act on free will. 

Though these texts do not come down clearly on one side of the other of the free will question, they do directly deal with this philosophical dilemma. 

One other novel to explore on this subject is The Last of the Mohicans by James Fenimore Cooper. 

A recurring theme of The Last of the Mohicans is that of personal lineage and its inescapable effects.

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