The underlying theme in Oedipus Rex is that fate is more powerful than free will. On this strong basis of fate, free will doesn't even exist. This was a popular belief among the ancient Greeks. Fate may be accepted or denied by modern society, but in Oedipus's story, fate proves inevitable. In the play, Oedipus Rex, the characters Oedipus, Iocaste and Laios try to change fate.
Words like destiny, fate, and predestination have a much meaning to people today, as countless people believe in it. On the other hand, the belief that a person controls his life has been established as an opposing belief. The book Oedipus the King, a Greek tragedy, written by Sophocles, examines this debate between fate and choice. Although some people argue that the tragedies that took place in Oedipus' life were destined to happen, the grim circumstances that surrounded Oedipus' life were the result of his own free will and the decisions he made about many of these circumstances.
In Sophocles ' Oedipus the King, the themes of fate and free will are very strong throughout the play. Only one, however, brought about Oedipus ' downfall and death. Both points could be argued to great effect. In ancient Greece, fate was considered to be a rudimentary part of daily life. Every aspect of life depended and was based upon fate (Nagle 100). It is common belief to assume that mankind does indeed have free will and each individual can decide the outcome of his or her life. Fate and free will both decide the fate of Oedipus the King.
However, consumed by his desire to seek knowledge, Oedipus ironically ignores all of the signs that point toward the truth. One such instance is when he is speaking to Jocasta, and she mentions how “[Oedipus is] doomed / – may [he] never fathom who [he is]!” (Sophocles, 1173-1174). Regardless of how closely related and similar both his and Laius’s predictions from the Oracle of Delphi are, Oedipus ignores the absolute truth. Another such instance is when Jocasta mentions how Laius had been “killed by strangers,/ thieves, at a place where three roads meet” (Sophocles 789-790). Although Oedipus recognizes that he had also killed a man at a crossroads, he refuses to believe the truth. Mr. Weil mentions how, despite most scholars believing Oedipus journeys from ignorance to knowledge, “his ignorance is self-willed. Oedipus has been told the truth and he has refused to recognize it-or even test it” (Weil). Anyone can see the validity of this statement once all of the hints and comments of Oedipus’s heritage are presented. He is consistently given the opportunity to accept the truth but he rejects any possibility. “The play is a tragedy not of divine fate but of human knowing”
The conflict between fate and free will is one of the major themes that are mentioned when discussing Oedipus Rex, but it can be argued that there is no such conflict and because free will is an illusion manipulated into thought by fate. Free will means to be able to choose a course of action from multiple choices and the only time this occurs is when Oedipus can use his intellect to judge the course of a decision. Had Oedipus known when to stop, his fate would have played out quietly, but his stubbornness to exploit the truth led to a more dramatic unfolding and the lives of people other than Oedipus including his children were ruined and in his wife’s case their life
In Sophocles' "Oedipus Rex", fate truly is a huge factor in many scenes and events. According to ancient Greek belief, the word of God was fate, and fate was the word of God. Therefore, every event that ever happened was predetermined and unchangeable. Oedipus himself has been completely victimized by fate. In the beginning of the play, he was "fated" to kill his father and marry his own mother and conceive children with her. Since it was the word of Apollo, the god, to the Greeks it meant that it was unchangeable. Oedipus escaped Corinth, the supposed city of his birth, and ran far away. He happened upon an old man in the crossroads-a fated event. Though he did not know it at the time, when he killed the man, it turned out to be his own father-a prophecy he was destined by fate to fulfill (Elsom, 85).
It is known that Oedipus will fulfill the prophecy of “Apollo said through his prophet that I was man who should marry his own mother, shed his father blood” LL.(945-447) but what isn’t known is how him or Jocasta will react and finding if the prophecy is infact true. It was Oedipus free will to find out if the prophecy is true. Also free will was blinding himself after Jocasta hanging. Just as blinding himself it was Jocasta free will to hang herself after truth reval. It is Oedipus free will to find out if the prophecy is true. It is fate that prophecy happen and it is free will of Oedipus and Jocasta of harming themselves.“Why should anyone in this world be afr...
When establishing whether it was fate or free will that determined the outcome of Oedipus’ life we must take in to consideration each side. Some people can say that he brought all of his suffering on himself but then again some people can say that it was his destiny that bad things were to happen to him.
Oedipus is doomed to his fate so he uses his freewill to purge the truth (WowEssays). He uses this illusion to control his life so he doesn’t feel so scared of the prophecy ever coming true. He goes to his hometown Thebes to get away from the prophecy, and while he was on the road he murders his father not knowing that it was his real father, fulfilling one part of the prophecy. When he arrived in Thebes he married his own mother, Jocasta, and believed he was the king of Thebes. Jocasta believed her son, Oedipus, was dead, but as pieces of information began to fit she realized she had married her son and that the prophecy was coming true. Nevertheless, Jocasta’s blindness lead her to commit suicide.
Although Oedipus has already fulfilled his destiny, his excessive pride pushes him to reveal the truth of the murder of King Laius. Had Oedipus not acted upon that pride, he would have never realized that he had achieved his dreadful prophecy. Oedipus ignores the dangerous warnings of his companions, and instead increases the urgency of the hunt for the murderer. “Listen to you? No more. I must know it all, / must see the truth at last” (1168-1169). Oedipus chooses to pursue the truth about King Laius’ murderer, not knowing he was the culprit. His own reckless pride makes Oedipus want to be the hero that would save Thebes from the deadly plague triggered by the murder of Laius. “I’ll start again- I’ll bring it all to light myself” (150)! Oedipus’ pride once again pushes him to find out the truth of the old kings murder. He wants to act as a God and protect his city. Oedipus’ free will causes him to be prideful, therefore hastening his downfall. “Now my curse on the murderer…” (280). When Oedipus curses the murderer, he unknowingly curses himself, too. Oedipus has multiple chances to turn away from his fate, but his excessive pride only leads him closer to it.
His desire for knowledge along with continuously trying to find answers about himself, is something the Gods did to make him that way. I think that no matter what Oedipus chose as his path it could not be averted. He can not escape the fate that was chosen by the Gods, no matter what would have happened through out the play he would still have ended killing his father and marrying his mother. When Oedipus reached the cross roads where he killed his father, it was fate that led him there, “short work, but god with one blow of the staff”. This demonstrates that he did not have free will in this choice because there was events that led him there where he would kill his father. Although he was using his own decision making he was not able to change his fate. The way he handles things because oh who he has become is something that eventually makes his fate come
Oedipus had no control over his destiny. The control and free will that Oedipus has over his fate is not dependent on making the prophecy come true. Instead, the only aspect that he can exercise free will over is whether or not he will find out the truth. Oedipus chooses to seek out the truth, in order to lift the curse over Thebes. Jocasta even warns Oedipus not to search for the truth, telling him “Ah mayst thou ne'er discover who thou art!” (Sophocles Oedipus the King 1068). Oedipus ignores her advice and says, “Let the storm burst, my fixed resolve still holds, To learn my lineage, be it ne'er so low” (Sophocles Oedipus the King 1078). Oedipus ignores all warnings and consciously chooses to seek the truth. Upon learning the truth, that the prophecy did indeed come true and Oedipus is his father’s murderer and his mother’s lover, Jocasta commits suicide and Oedipus blinds and exiles himself. Oedipus had no control over the prophecy, because it came true despite everyone’s best effort to stop it, but he was able to choose whether or not to uncover the truth. He could have lived out his days in ignorant bliss, but instead he chose to uncover the truth, and as a result he received a horrible
To begin, fate comes into play when Oedipus decides to run away from home. He thinks Phoebus and Marope are his real parents and he knows his destiny is to kill his father and marry his mother. Of course he does not want to experience any of the events the Oracle has told him he will, so he runs away. To some that may sound like it is his free will to run away, but it is in fact the opposite. The gods know he is not Phoebus’ and Marope’s child. They know Oedipus will try to escape his destiny and that is exactly what they want him to do. By him running away from what he thinks will be his destiny, he is actually running towards it. This is all the plan o...
In “Oedipus the King,” an infant’s fate is determined that he will kill his father and marry his mother. To prevent this heartache his parents order a servant to kill the infant. The servant takes pity on the infant and gives him to a fellow shepherd, and the shepherd gives him to a king and queen to raise as their own. The young prince learns of the prophecy and flees from his interim parents because he is afraid that he is going to succeed. The young prince eventually accomplishes his prophecy without even knowing he is doing it. He murders his father and marries his mother unknowingly. While it may seem to some that Oedipus was destined to carry out his fate, it is also true that Oedipus’ personality led him to his fate.
A common debate that still rages today is whether we as a species have free will or if some divine source, some call it fate, controls our destiny. The same debate applies to Oedipus the King and Oedipus at Colonus. Does Oedipus control his actions, or are they predetermined by the gods? It’s that question that makes Oedipus a classic, and many different people think many different things.