The Victim of Fate in Oedipus Rex
The question has been raised as to whether Oedipus was a victim of fate or of his own actions. This essay will show that Oedipus was a victim of fate, but he was no puppet because he freely and actively sought his doom, although he was warned many times of the inevitable repercussions of his actions.
When first considering this topic, I speculated that maybe it was the destiny of Oedipus to suffer, but a friend asked me to explain why Oedipus, in the act of gouging his eyes out, cries explicitly:
No more, no more shall you look on the misery about me,
The horrors ...
In today’s modern times we choose how to live our lives by certain actions or choices that we choose to believe in. Yet as people we common sometimes debate with ourselves as species and humans of our free thought do we have free will over the choices we make or does the decisions we make play with our fate that controls what our destiny is. In my thesis essay, I will be discussing how fate played a role in Oedipus the King, but how it tried to prevent him from creating his own downfall in this tragic play. I will also discuss how Ancient Greece contributed to the development of values but also how Oedipus lead to his own downfall and not the value of faith.
Oedipus the King, written by Sophocles, is a tragic drama that portrays a great deal of irony. Oedipus, the protagonist, suffers serious misfortune that is significant in that the “misfortune is logically connected with the hero’s actions” (AbleMedia LLC). When the reader learns about the background of Greek culture and the life of Sophocles, this tragic drama is able to become more alive and valuable. It is important to familiarize oneself with the author because it allows for a greater connection to the dialogue presented. Through the character development of Oedipus, one can see how ironic circumstances can turn a prideful king into a tragic figure.
Oedipus is depicted as a “marionette in the hands of a daemonic power”(pg150), but like all tragic hero’s he fights and struggles against fate even when the odds are against him. His most tragic flaw is his morality, as he struggles between the good and the evil of his life. The good is that he was pitied by the Shepard who saved him from death as a baby. The evil is his fate, where he is to kill his father and marry his mother. His hubris or excessive pride and self-righteousness are the lead causes to his downfall. Oedipus is a tragic hero who suffers the consequences of his immoral actions, and must learn from these mistakes. This Aristotelian theory of tragedy exists today, as an example of what happens when men and women that fall from high positions politically and socially.
Fate and the circumstantial downfall of characters (usually surrounding the protagonist) is a reoccurring theme seen throughout the Eras of theatre (specifically between the plays Oedipus Rex [Greek Theatre] and King Lear [Elizabethan Thatre.]) Fate and falling victim to circumstance is one of the same; fate is just a predetermination made by a higher being (gods,) while circumstance is almost always the result of causation; contrary to the psychological phrase correlation does not imply causation which means that a relation between two variables does not imply that one is the cause of the other. For those who lived during the Greek Theatre Era (600-200 BC,) the explanation of “fate” was considered an acceptable means to justify the unknown, and/or to gain information/knowledge. Audiences eventually became more literate and the reliance on the gods to help make sense of why something has happened slowly diminished; this cultural reformation demanded the same change to occurr within the theatre, which correlated fate with falling victim to circumstance. In th...
Sixteenth century play writers often focused on the tragic irony of fate. One such play-writer is Sophacles. In one of his later plays, “Oedipus”, he writes the tragic story of a man who can’t avoid his pre-destined fate, and that some things just can’t be changed by the people in your life no matter how hard they try. Oedipus, the main character of this tragedy, he is a protagonist ruled by conflict and fate. This is evident in the characters traits and motivations, interactions with others, and the characters language and what others say about him.
Aristotle’s definition: The definition of a tragic hero is fairly self-explanatory, however, Aristotle’s definition of the term is the best description. He writes that a tragic hero is a literary character who makes an error of judgment or has a fatal flaw that, combined with fate and external forces, brings on tragedy. When referring to the play, Oedipus the King, many people question whether Oedipus should have the title of a tragic hero based on the events that take place in the play. When deciding if this label is true, we must look into some of the significant elements that make up the character of a tragic hero.
Ever since man, has set foot upon the earth drama and tragedy has been the path chosen whether it is of ones own doing or of society’s traditional influences. Such is the case of Sophocles’ Oedipus. Oedipus, an infant born unto nobility, discarded by nobility, to be adopted into nobility and then to be chosen for nobility by the people, to be King of Thebes . To end up blinded by his own hand and led by his own daughter through the remainder of his life. It is in this manner that Sophocles choses to use the understanding of Aristotle’s definition of a tragic hero to depict that life lesson for today’s audience. It is no coincidence that Aristotle’s characterization of a tragic hero befits Oedipus through his high estates, tragic flaw, and
“Oedipus the King”, also known as “Oedipus Rex”, is a Greek play written by the famous playwright Sophocles. It was first performed around 429 B.C. and is the second of the “three Theban plays” to be produced, but it comes first in the chronology (1). The plot revolves around a great man named Oedipus, who reins king of Thebes after solving a riddle from a sphinx and saving the city. In the play Oedipus must save his city once more from a deadly plague that infests the city after the previous king was murdered unknowingly by Oedipus himself. The play ends in Oedipus admitting his mistakes and gauging his eyes out with his mother’s jewellery and sentencing himself to exile for the rest of his life to atone for his mistakes. The play is recognized as a classic example within the genre of tragedy and is heavily enjoyed to this day. Sophocles was a master of the genre and was able to mask his commentary about deep and provocative subjects with grandiose and epic storylines that had the viewer on the edge of their seat. In the play “Oedipus the King” Sophocles brings up the question of fate against free will and how they can control our lives in different ways.
Even though Oedipus is praised by many for his courage against the Sphinx, he is still human like everyone else, and every human has flaws. Oedipus’s flaws sadly lead to his death and shame to his family. His daughters would now suffer the burden of being related to Oedipus, the man who killed his own father and married his wife. With the supporting evidence it is obvious that Oedipus’s arrogance, stubbornness, and blindness brought him down to misery in Sophocles’s surprising play Oedipus Rex.