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How significant are outside influences onour decisions to commit ourselves to an action?

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How significant are outside influences on our decisions to commit ourselves to an action? To illustrate the timeless issues involved in this question and suggest an answer, I have chosen to examine two characters and influences on their actions in Fly Away Peter, written by David Malouf in 1981 and Antigone, based on a Greek myth, and written by Jean Anouilh in 1944. Together, these two texts, although separated by cultures and years, show that the actions of main characters from the two novels are influenced by different factors to varying degrees. Many influences on our decisions come from within, in the case of Antigone and Jim. Other pressures stem from outside, good examples being the death of Oedipus and his sons thrusting Creon into the throne and the expectations on Ashley Crowther. Additional cases may be found where outside influences seemingly have no effect on the decisions of characters, as visible in the actions of Creon's guards.


that is the main reason for his actions in joining the war. However, again like Antigone an outside influence, in the form of his father, has some consequence on his decision to go to a foreign land to fight. Jim sees his link to his father as no more than an "accidental link of blood" (page 5), however he seems to be interested in the violence in the man, which he kept at arms length. This violence, which Jim sees as an infection in single men not mankind leads to Jim joining the war and explore a very different world to his own peaceful, innocent existence. It is the character of Jim and not the outside influences that most effect his decision to commit himself to war. It seems that Malouf agrees with this statement, as the metaphor of the ground Jim stands on tilting "to the place where the war was" hints of inevitability in Jim's involvement in the war, a kind that will not be influenced by outside events, people or actions.


The men concern themselves only with themselves and are untouched by the tragedy that unfolds before them. The chorus notes that the tragedy is "no skin off their backs", and they have no vested interest in any actions which do not effect them or their purses. Interestingly the guards who involve themselves little emerge from the tragedy least effected. The extent to which outside influences cause decisions and commitments varies greatly amongst the protagonists in Fly Away Peter and Antigone. The main characters of each text, Jim and Antigone, are driven mostly by their will, but are to a lesser extent influenced by outside actions. Creon is the main example of a character whose decisions are greatly changed by outside influences in the death of the King and his two sons inherent to the throne. Ashely Crowther also perceives external circumstances as requiring him to act in a certain way and join the way. In marked contrast are Creon's guards, whose decisions are changed little by outside influences. 1021 words

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