Romeo and Juliet

The Gift of Free Will College

Dutch humanist and scholar Erasmus defines free will as “a power of the human will by which man may be able to direct himself towards or turn away from what leads to eternal salvation” (Erasmus 6). Many literary works of the Renaissance debate the roles of fate and free will in everyday life because determinism cannot be scientifically proven. Human beings cannot choose the family, culture, or economic situation that they are born into. But each action or decision that occurs from this point on is determined by free will, which is given freely by God. Free will differentiates mankind, or rational beings from animals. Humans have the capability to think, reason, and then make a conscious decision about how to act in response, therefore assuming responsibility for one’s actions and the subsequent consequences. Erasmus’ A Discussion or Discourse concerning Free Will is one of the many works of this time period which supports this theory, and uses examples in scripture to do so. William Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet, on the contrary, argues that the entire course of events that unfolds during the play is a result of determinism. However, even though Romeo and Juliet does argue that fate is omnipotent, it can also be interpreted...

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