"Destiny is not a matter of chance, it is a matter of choice," proclaimed William Jennings Bryan. Many people believe in destiny and fate and a set-in-stone, unbreakable path for their lives. Caesar’s ego warps and distorts his interpretation of various superstitions in Shakespeare’s play, Julius Caesar. Although he believes in superstition and the supernatural, he selectively chooses his interpretation. Be it a dream, fortune-telling, or a common superstition, it always benefits Caesar, or it just isn’t true. Caesar’s distorted sense of self-superiority ultimately leads to his assassination. If he had listened to some of the ‘signs of the gods,’ his tragic fate may have been avoided.
Caesar believes in some sort of fate and ultimate destiny. He believes that there is no escaping what ‘the gods’ have in store. “What can be avoided, whose ends is purposed by the might gods?” (Shakespeare, pg.. 77) says Caesar when he has to make a decision about going to the forum or not. His belief in fate sometimes contradicts his belief in superstition. On one hand, he states that no end can be avoided, and on another, he asks Antony to touch his wife for fertility, as if without Antony, that event would not be fated. His large ego blinds him from seeing the contradiction of his convictions. He also states, “It seems to me most strange that men should fear, seeing that death, a necessary end, Will come when it will come.” (Shakespeare, pg. 77) He believes that one’s fate is unavoidable. Caesar’s behavior changes whenever a superstition could benefit him. “Forget not in your speed Antonius, to touch Calphurnia. For our elders say, the barren, touched in this holy chase, shake off their sterile curse.” (Shakespeare, pg. 13) To try and rid his wife of the ‘sterile curse’ Caesar instructs Antony to touch her while he runs. Because this particular belief may benefit him and his family, Caesar accepts it as truth. Caesar’s reaction to Calphurnia’s nightmare of a fountain of Caesar spilling out blood and people rejoicing in it is complete non-belief. He cannot, for one moment, see the all-mighty Caesar being defeated, and his ego tells him that there is no way it will happen. Then, another interpretation comes into play that says that the dream can be interpreted to mean that the people will be rejoicing under Caesar’s rule, and he gladly accepts, “How foolish do your fears seem now, Calphurnia! …give me my robe, for I will go.