Debate Around Fate and Freewill in the Poem Invictus by William Ernest Henley, Novel East of Eden by John Steinbeck and Activism of Greta Thunberg

April 27, 2022 by Essay Writer

Thematic Statement

Many situations in life are a result of fate, but how one stumbles upon the scene, reacts and moves on is their own free-will

East of Eden by John Steinbeck

The recurring phrase throughout the later half of the book is Timshel, Thou Mayest, which is what the Lord said to Cain after killing Abel, “thou mayest rule over sin”, it is one’s choice whether they can leave their sins behind them or be plagued forever,;thou mayest also means “thou mayest not”. This is an obvious indicator of the power of free-will. However, the irony exists in that, Adam and his family ultimately follow the basic storyline of Adam and Eve and Cain and Abel. Cathy (Eve) happens to come across the Trasks, and Adam falls in love, love is not always choice. Their sons, are twins by fate. One grows up loved and the other neglected, the favoring of other people is not the choice of an individual, only characteristics he was given from birth determine that.

That is all the result of fate. How one reacts in these situations that were predetermined by fate is their own free-will, “ Cal did not question the fact that people liked his brother better, but he developed a means for making it all right with himself (Steinbeck 345)“, it is Cal’s choice to spread evil and exact revenge on people for favoring his brother, he could choose to better himself to people, that is free-will. Through this Cal drives Aron to find death, which is the fate of Abel in the story, but how Aorn got to that point and how Caleb forced his hand is all out of their own doings.

Poem Invictus by William Ernest Henley

Henley cleary shows his stand on the debate on fate vs free-will, “I am the master of my fate, I am the captain of my soul”. He does however, state that “In the fell clutch of circumstance – I have not winced nor cried aloud.” He does not however have any say in the circumstances that he finds himself in, he does control how he reacts. “Under the bludgeonings of chance – My head is bloody, but unbowed”, fate does have a factor in life, the troubles caused by unpredictable chance are imminent in life but he can control how he walks away from every situation, “my head is bloody,but unbowed”.

Current Event linked to Fate and Freewill

Greta Thunberg: ‘They see us as a threat because we’re having an impact’ by Greta Thunberg and Ali Smith from “The Guardian”.

Great men once said that it was humanity’s destiny to reach the industrial success we are at now. Then is it also humanity’s fate to reach the climate crisis point that came out of this? Global warming is a power an individual cannot face, but as activists show, an individual has the free-will to do something about it. From the perspective of an individual, ones choice is his or her own free-will, whether others will listen, the interaction by the majority is something that requires faith.

Activist Greta Thunberg chooses to spread the message of the coming danger, and ways to slow its progress, whether her attempts are any good, whether this stops the “Great Flood”, only time will tell. If setting the world ablaze is a sin, “thou may triumph” over it, whether people decide to do something about the threat, lessen or worsen is a choice they can make on their own independent of each other, but the effect is dependent on everyone’s decisions. Fate and free-will is intertwined, the choices of individuals will determine the ultimate fate of the majority, but each individual can only contribute and can not produce the definite outcome.


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