Is there free will in the human life? In the short stories Oedipus Rex by Sophocles, The Tragedy of Macbeth by William Shakespeare, and “The Guest” by Albert Camus portrays how the exercise of free will leads to downfall. By the ideas of a higher superior, Oedipus, Macbeth, and the Arab in The Guest are able to independently decide their course of life which will eventually lead to their ruins. Oedipus exercises free will within the restriction of greater limiting forces. Macbeth heard his prophecy from the three witches and acts on his own which leads to his own downfall. Daru created two paths for the Arab to choose from which will lead him to be punished for exercising his free will. These works may answer the question whether there is free will or not.
In Oedipus Rex by Sophocles, portrays an individual who has limited free will but continues to exercise . Oedipus reaches out to anyone that knows about King Laius’s death. Many of the people he questioned gave him a vague answer. As he draws closer to the answer, Jocasta tries to stop him from continuing his “crime solving”.
“Oedipus: …Is that the man this shepherd means?Jocasta: Forget this herdsman. Forget it all.This talk is a waste of time.” (Sophocles 348, ll. 999-1001). His desire for truth kept pushing him to continue his search, leading to his downfall. The entire time Oedipus was capable to stop looking for his troubled answer. However he made the independent decision to continue. Oedipus’s downfall . Oedipus puts a lot of time to find out who killed the King. When Oedipus learns about his prophecy, he thought he got away from it by running away from his adopted parents which he thought were his biological parents. Though Jocasta does not believe the fate that her son would kill her husband would happen because her husband had left him out to die. When she found out otherwise, she killed herself as she cannot face the public. When Oedipus found out, he reacts by stating, “It was true! All the prophecies! -now, O Light, may I look on you for the last time” (Sophocles, 354, ll. 1117-1120). Before he knew he was the killer, he cursed whoever killed King Laius. He realized he was the killer, he felt the need to punish himself. He does not have to punish himself but he does so on his own will.
In the play, Oedipus did not ask to be born in the fate that he will kill her father and marry his mother. Oedipus’s act of free will is determine by his knowledge of his fate and not by fate itself. He has free will to change how his life goes. His choices brought the prophecy to life. He made his own decision to run away from the prophecy. With his free will, he does have the power to decide for himself what he should do for his prophecy. He claims to run away from home to protect his parents but rather runs away to protect himself from feeling contrite. “As I wandered farther and farther on my way To a land where I should never see the evil Sung by the oracle” (Sophocles 337, ll. 755-757). He admits to Jocasta when he found out about his prophecy and he strongly express that he should not see his prophecy come true.
In The Tragedy of Macbeth by William Shakespeare portrays an individual’s desire that does not relate to fate but free will. Macbeth uses fate as an excuse to execute his plan to fulfill his desires. His prophecy is to become king but it does not say how. “If chance will have me king, why, chance may crown me Without my stir” (I, IV, ll. 157-159). When he took matters in his own hands it is hard to tell if being king is the result of fate. His prophecy did not require him to do anything to be king, but the fact that he did do something shows that he freely decided on his decision.
Macbeth’s free will causes destruction to himself and others around him. Every choice he makes on his own desire, will merely affect others harshly. He encountered the witches that told him to beware of Macduff. “Beware Macduff, beware the Thane of fire. The power of man, for none born of women, shall harm Macbeth.” (III, i, ll. 75-76). He immediately ordered the murderers to kill Macduff’s wife and child. Though the prophecy told Macbeth to beware of Macduff, it does not tell Macbeth how to act. Macbeth’s decision to kill Macduff’s family is led by his own choice and fate has nothing to do with it.William Shakespeare shows how the overuse of free will cause by obsessive desires leads to a tragic downfall. Macbeth’s desires to act upon his prophecies leads to his defeat. He is influence by the Witches and Lady Macbeth to act upon his prophecies. “When you durst do it, then you were a man; And to be more than what you were, you would be so much more the man” (I, VII, ll. 49-51). Lady Macbeth persuades him to make his prophecy come true. Though he is also responsible to his own downfall because he denies to listen to his conscience which tells him to consider his ways and paths that is slowly causing his downfall.
In “The Guest” by Albert Camus portrays a unique individual that merely has two different options that changes his way of life. The Arab was given two paths from Daru the schoolmaster. One path is to be punish in jail, another path is to be free where he will be taken care of. The Schoolmaster could tell the Arab would choose to go to jail before giving him these two choices. “Daru with heavy heart made out the Arab walking slowly on the road to prison” (Camus 1256). The Arab chooses to go to jail on his own will.
Freedom is connected to humans choosing course of action. Camus shows how independent actions can help find value in life. The Arab was given two options to make on his own and he chooses to go to jail. The Arab chooses to be punished for his wrong doing in order to redeem himself and give value and meaning in his life. Camus shows a hidden meaning behind Daru’s kind actions that influence The Arab to want great values in his life. He shows this by Daru feeding the Arab and eating with him.“The meal was over, the Arab looked at the schoolmaster. “Are you the judge?”
“No, I’m simply keeping you until tomorrow.”
“Why do you eat with me”
“I’m hungry (Camus 1253).”
The quote describes Daru’s kind actions towards the prisoner (the Arab). This is consider a kind act because Daru goes against society’s view by treating a prisoner like a friend.
“The Guest” by Albert Camus, shows how free will can be frightening and can cause feeling of isolation. When Daru gives the Arab free will, Camus shows a hidden feeling where Daru feels isolated when he learns the Arab has chosen the path to punishment. Camus describes isolation and loneliness in this narrative: “Daru hesitated. The sun was now rather high in the sky and was beginning to beat down on his head. The schoolmaster retraced his steps at first somewhat uncertainly then with decision. When he reached the little hill he was bathed in sweat. He climbed it as fast as he could and stopped. Out of breath at the top. The rock-fields to the south stood out sharply against the blue sky but on the plain to the east a steamy heat was already rising. And in that slight haze Daru with heavy heart made out the Arab walking slowly on the road to prison (Camus 1256).” Daru felt uneasy when he learns the Arab took the path to jail. In the works of Oedipus Rex by Sophocles, Macbeth by William Shakespeare, and “The Guest” by Albert Camus, free will is available to anyone with great desires to change their course of life. They were influenced by others to act on their free will. Free will can lead to destruction and it can also lead to greater values in life. In Oedipus and Macbeth portrays the use of free will leads them to destruction. The Guest shows how choosing destruction to redeem oneself can add values in life. We were not able to see their life if they did not act upon their prophecies. Every choice they make independently, will be about fulfilling their desires. The question can be answer with they do have free will. The power of having free will can have many effects but the point is always the same.