If you had the chance to change your fate, would you? Now if you didn’t read that in Princess Merida’s voice I don’t know what to tell you. And she has a point. Everyone would love to change their fate, right? But what exactly is fate? That’s where the omniscient forces and the cosmos get a little iffy. See if we look at fate in the purest form of the word, all beings would be subjected to a predetermined destiny. That means that no matter what you do or how hard you try, you’re only going to end up as well off as the universe wants you to. And that is ridiculous on a variety of levels. For one, it would mean that I could be perpetually lazy and get away with it because things would work out however they were destined to, whether I cooperated with the universe or not. But that’s not how things work. In fact, it’s the exact opposite of how things work. The truth is that things happen because we make them happen. Our lives are the collection of the choices we make. That’s what makes it ours. Of course, there are environmental factors that are out of our control, but those are only obstacles on the paths we choose to follow. They in no way dictate the path itself. Ultimately the most liberating quality about life is that you get to choose how everything turns out. The force that is fate is nonexistent. This concept is present in many stories, with many different backgrounds. These stories are meant to inspire and encourage, to give us insight on the confusing phenomenon that is existence. From mythology to Pixar movies to Harry Potter, the leading characters live their own lives, not the ones they are told to have.
The Oedipus (pronounced eh-da-piss?) Cycle
So let me get this straight. Oedipus was a pretty messed up dude with a pretty messed up life and a pretty awesome daughter. Who was also his sister. Like I said. Messed. Up. Like many other victimized protagonists, he was subject to a prophecy that he would kill his father and marry his mother. Oedipus tried desperately to avoid this “fate”, but it was his impulsive nature and lack of foresight that ensured his demise. Sidenote: It’s almost as if Oedipus tries to make things worse for himself. His wife and mother Iocaste (also known as Jocaste) takes her own life after the revelation that Oedipus is her son, so to make up for his tragic loss, Oedipus rips his eyes out. And I thought I could overreact.
*a note to the wise: you may want to use safe search when Googling “Oedipus eyes”. just saying.*
Merida, along with Mulan and Megara, is one of the few Disney princesses who fiercely and unapologetically goes after what she wants. (Maybe your name has to start with the letter M or something.) She is almost forced into an arranged marriage, yet she takes charge and manages to free herself while *spoiler alert* accidently changing her mother into a bear. Oops. Things happen, right? Nevertheless, it is Merida’s unbreakable spirit that makes her a role model for girls of all ages. She does not allow herself to be trapped by the expectations of society. You go girl.
Harry Freaking Potter
The infamous prophecy. Neither can live while the other survives. Talk about a death sentence. But you’re Harry Freaking Potter – fighting wizard crime since infancy and murderer at age eleven. You can handle a tiny wittle prophecy, can’t you? And he does. Quite brilliantly, I might add. Maybe Hermione’s finally rubbing off on him. But in all seriousness, Harry was a hero in his own right. In Harry there was a kind of bravery that can only be found in the greatest of Gryffindors. He never let the prophecy stop him from protecting the people he loved, right down to the very last sacrifice. In the face of death, he chose to live on. And all was well.