By Amy Hood - @amylia403
Fate versus free will. It’s an argument as old as the most ancient storybooks. Can people change or escape their fate? This is a scenario we have seen repeated in Once Upon A Time. Characters that are “born” to do something, whose destinies and fates were told years before…could they change it? Was there any way they could have avoided who and what they were destined to be?
The first and oldest example of a character fated to have a certain destiny is Rumplestiltskin. When we see him early in his life, he has a lovely wife, a home and dreams of starting a family. He is called to fight in the Ogre Wars, where he meets a seer. The Seer tells him that his actions the following day would cause his son to grow up without a father. Rumple assumes she means he will die, so he wounds himself in order to be sent home. This act ends up being the catalyst for future events. Milah no longer wants to be with him because he is a coward. She leaves him, pushing him to total desperation to keep the one person he has left: his son. All of these events play like dominos, one leading to the other, and ultimately lead to Rumple’s son being lost and growing up without his father, just as the Seer foretold.
The question that comes up is what if that first “domino” had not been pushed? If Rumple had not met the Seer, is it possible that none of the other events would have happened? He assumed she meant he would die on the battlefield, but we find that she really was foreseeing his cowardice and the wounding of himself which led to all the other events. If he had never met the Seer, it is entirely possible that he would have fought in the battle and survived the next day. Had he survived the war, he would have gone home a hero to a proud wife and young son. These things could only come to pass, however, if his fate was not set in stone.
In a darker, less optimistic slant, it is also possible that he had no “right” choice to make. Perhaps there was no way for him to escape that fate. The Seer’s prophecy was cryptic. This may have been because no matter what, it was Rumple’s fate that his son would be left fatherless. If that fact was unavoidable, no matter what his actions were after hearing the Seer’s prophesy, he had no options. If his choice had been to go and fight, if fate is inescapable, he would have in fact died. This would still have proved the Seer correct, just by different means. If he was indeed to die on the battlefield, or whether it was through his self wounding, either way his son would be lost to him. If these things are true, Rumple had no way to escape from his fate.
Rumple’s story is much debated. He is an object of fascination for many of the fans. His story is engaging, magical and tragic. At his core, Rumple wants what many people want; to be loved, happy, and not alone. All the power he acquires, the evil he does, is in an effort to save himself from the heartache and suffering of being alone. It is his desperation to have these things coupled with his crippling loneliness after losing his son that push him toward each move he makes. Whether he can escape it or not, his pain pushes him to the destiny laid out before him by the Seer so many years ago.
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