Every day, thousands of decisions are made. Whether it’s something as easy as deciding to stay inside and relax or to go outside for a run, each of these decisions create a different outcome. However, when viewed in their entirety it raises the question of the actual impact of these choices and whether or not it is significant to the life that an individual will have. Fate is the idea that the path and destination of one’s life are all predetermined.
While some may see the idea of fate as a limiting factor to one’s life, fate actually liberates an individual from certain burdens in life. Works such as One Hundred Years of Solitude and The Ramayana, fate plays an undermined role of freeing characters from burdens in life and from aspects of life that are outside of their control. For example, in One Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabriel García Márquez, fate plays an important role in shaping the characters of the novel.
Fate is an integral element of the novel One Hundred Years of Solitude.
This can be clearly seen throughout the entire history of the Buendía family. As the generations come and go, the same names used to name the first generation of Buendías: José Arcadio, Aureliano, Úrsula, and Amaranta are reused over and over to name the next generation of Buendías. Fate plays a role in this instance in that the new generation of Buendía’s are destined to share similar characteristics and lives as the original holders of the name.
For example, Úrsula Iguarán, the matriarch of the family comments on the similarity of Aureliano Segundo to the original Aureliano. She states that he is “just like Aureliano” and that “it’s as if the world were repeating itself again” (Marquez 298). In this case, fate greatly impacts the lives of the Buendía family. Fate liberates these characters by providing these characters with roles that allow them to escape the cyclical nature of time by revealing the complete truth of the Macondo at the end of the novel.
This then leads to the town and the Buendía family completely wiped away from existence. Additionally, another example of fate liberating a character is with Colonel Aureliano Buendía. Colonel Aureliano Buendía is gifted with the ability of premonition and using this vaguely predicts his death. However, this does not dissuade him from continuing life. On the contrary, Colonel Aureliano Buendía actually becomes a better a commander as “the certainty that his day was assigned gave him mysterious immunity, an immortality for a fixed period that made him invulnerable to the risks of war . . .” (Marquez 170) The certainty of death for Colonel Aureliano Buendía freed him from the worry of death as it was already a determined moment for him. This allowed him to focus more on the war that he was waging, unafraid of death and allowed him to play a stronger role as a rebellion leader and win victories against the corrupt government. Fate itself is not a limitation.
In a way, it frees individuals from certain uncontrollable aspects of life, like in the case of the repetition of history and time represented through repeated names within the Buendia family and the predetermined death of Colonel Aureliano Buendía. Furthermore, fate possesses a close relationship with duty as it essentially determines an individual’s responsibilities in life. In Hinduism, dharma is one’s duty or responsibility in their life. An individual’s duty changes as they progress through life’s four stages: Brahmacharya, Grihastha, Vanaprastha, and Sannyasa (Valentine). However, there is a misconception about dharma. It does not purely represent duty. “While the majority of the occurrences of dharma denote broadly morality or propriety, there is a significant emphasis also on caste, family or personal duties and on an element of necessity . . .” (Brockington 655-656). Dharma clearly represents a whole spectrum of responsibilities each having their own priority based on the individual. Fate is interrelated with dharma as these duties or responsibilities are predetermined by fate.
For example, Rama’s fate as the 7th incarnation of the god Vishnu is to defeat the leader of the rakshasas, Ravana, who is only killable by a human being. As the incarnation of Vishnu, Rama also has the duty to uphold the qualities of the perfect person. Rama also bears the duties of prince, son, and husband. While Rama is also perceived to be the perfect ksatriya, it is when he has to complete his duty as the son of King Dasaratha and Kaikeyi by leaving Ayodhya for 14 years that his position as a ksatriya becomes the most impactful (Brockington 666). This is also the point where Rama truly begins the main goal of his being. Rama’s duties, which are governed by fate, liberates him from unnecessary worries, such as being the king of Ayodhya after Dasaratha’s retirement. This allows him to focus more on his main goal of saving Sita and slaying Ravana as it frees him from responsibilities that are just not meant to be performed by him.
Fate and duty are ultimately intertwined and, in this case, they provide the purpose and responsibilities of Rama. Likewise, the relationship of duty and fate can also be found in the roles that other characters enact within The Ramayana. In The Ramayana, other characters are also influenced by fate and dharma. This frees them from unneeded burdens such as finding one’s purpose in life. One example of this is the character Hanuman. Hanuman, prior to meeting Rama, was only serving the dethroned king, Sugreeva. However, Hanuman was already destined to serve him as his father told him, “You shall dedicate your life to the service of Vishu . . . when you meet him you will be filled with love and not be able to move away from his presence” (Narayan 94). Knowing that his destiny is to serve Vishu, Hanuman is freed from the burden of finding his purpose in life as it has already been determined. The fated meeting with Rama also frees Hanuman from his own personal limitations. When challenged with finding Sita, Hanuman becomes discouraged when he cannot find a way to cross the ocean.
Yet, he overcomes this after Jambavan expresses to him that, “you are the only one who is fit to cross the sea and carry the message of hope to Sita… your devotion to Rama will be enough to guide you to where Sita is being kept” (Narayan 120). With this Hanuman learns his true powers and uses it to cross the ocean and arrive in Lanka. Fate freed Hanuman from his own personal limitations and allowed him to develop into the individual that he truly was. This, in turn, helps him accomplish his life’s duty and purpose of serving Rama as fate allowed him to focus on the actions that were possible for himself. While fate does take charge of an individual’s life and essentially eliminates the value of personal choice, this does not signify that fate reduces an individual’s life to pure one of sadness and depression.
Paradoxically, fate liberates an individual from life’s burdens. In One Hundred Years of Solitude, fate allows for the repetition of history through the repetitive naming of the Buendía family, however, in the end, this is also provided the release of this cycle within the Buendía family. By examining the relationship between fate and dharma, it is illustrated that these two concepts are intertwined as dharma is determined by fate and duty is carried out to complete a certain fate or destiny. Fate also liberates an individual from the worries of conditions outside of their control. The Ramayana provides more examples of the liberating role of fate as it shows that fate can free an individual from focusing on things in life that are not a part of their purpose. At the end of the day, when looking back at all of the choices made, fate may have had a part in shaping some decisions, but it does not diminish life, it removes extraneous concerns and hardships, giving life something better to look forward to.