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Fate Versus Free Will in Oedipus the King by Sophocles

Good Essays
Oedipus the King is play that tells of a renowned king and his struggle between free will and his alleged fate. Oedipus was prophesized to kill his father and marry his mother. After learning about the prophecy, Oedipus immediately takes action by leaving his hometown of Corinth and avoiding his supposed parents. In Oedipus the King, Sophocles shows that Oedipus' actions contribute to his downfall; it is his vain short temper, enormous pride, and impulsive nature that cause him to make the decisions that set into action the course of events that not only lead to his own doom, but ironically the fate he tries so desperately to escape.
Oedipus the King is ripe with examples of Oedipus' short temper. When the blind prophet, Tiresias, first comes to Thebes and refuses to tell Oedipus of what he knows, the king gets angry and starts to verbally assault him. Tiresias, fed up, tells Oedipus that he is the murderer (Sophocles line 413). This, of course, doesn't soothe Oedipus' anger and sends him into a fit of rage. Thus, he accuses his brother in-law of treason: “I see it all, the marauding thief himself scheming to steal my crown and power” (Sophocles lines 596-598). Without the ridiculous outbursts of rage he, would have never killed Laius and these fateful events would not have unfolded. Oedpius' anger isn't quelled easily due to his inflated ego.
Self-proclaimed champion of Apollo (Sophocles lines 154-155), Oedipus is clearly an arrogant individual. This is shown firsthand when Tiresias comes to the palace. Oedipus welcomes him with open arms proclaiming, “O Tiresias, master of the mysteries in our life... Blind as you are, you can feel all the more what sickness haunts our city. You, my lord, are the one shield, the one savior we...

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...about by his own choices. The prophecy controls some of Oedipus' life, but it's because the fear of it coming true that drives the characters to take ill action. Throughout the play we are given evidence showing his poor decision making and anger issues, but never any definitive proof that Oedipus' future is out of his control.
Oedipus the King tells of Oedipus' struggle with his fate. It is Oedipus' short temper, pride, and poor decision making that cause him to make the choices that lead to his demise. Oedipus and his family take action to ensure the prophecy of him killing his father and sleeping with his mother would not come true. The play is saturated with irony. Oedipus steers himself directly into his fate after trying to avoid it for most of his life. While fate played a small role in spurring Oedipus' actions, he ultimately brought his ruin upon himself.
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