Oedipus the King
- Date:Jul 17, 2019
- Category:Oedipus the King
Fate vs. the Power of Freewill Introduction “Oedipus the King”, as written by Sophocles presents an argument for the authors belief that fate can uniquely control one’s life despite his choice of free will. Interlocked within the play are circumstances of fate working which as the story develops helps in revealing the theme of the story. (Driver 247) As the play unfolds, the main character, Oedipus is portrayed as torn between two complementing things; Fate and Free will. While Oedipus is cast as possessing the free will to make rational decisions about his life, fate takes the overriding advantage in the end. Poulharia (7) reveals that the past events are perhaps used as a benchmark to solve the present unfolding; however, it is revealed that whatever actions taken in the past will not alter the already predetermined fate of the future. Sophocles shows that at the moment of his birth, Oedipus seems to have had pre-determined occurrences that would ultimately lead to his unfortunate destruction. As earlier alluded, although Oedipus has inner free will, his rational decisions are set rather on limits of fate that are self-prophesying. In this piece of literary works, Sophocles tend to suggest that humans are bestowed with free will to make decisions regarding their life but human decisions are controlled by higher supernatural issues beyond human understanding.(Poulharia 8)
It is suggested that the gods of Sophocles are the main forces which operate within cosmos, providing the much seen order and consistency. (Driver 247) Even after being told early enough of their son’s fate, Oedipus sought to take the free will action to destroy him so as to escape fate. In the end order was again restored and fate allowed resided. Subsequently, when Oedipus finally heard of his fate he took a return journey to Thebes, his native birth town so as to escape fate, and as fate would have it, his actions instead drove him closer to his fate. To advance this argument further, Oedipus believes to some extent Apollo’s words and decides to leave Corinth in an elusive hope to change the future. He further exposes his confidence in believing the prophets when he is asked what he thinks he can do to save his city, to this he openly says, “I sent Creon, my wife’s own brother, to Dephi to learn what I might do or say to save our city.” He receives his response and accepts it as the truth without a second thought and he apparently knows so well that nothing much can be done. He is informed that all would be well and he says again that, “Of course what were the God’s words? There are no hope and nothing to fear in what you have said so far” clearly he believes in what might come. He entirely trusts in Apollo’s words and therefore sets out to seek the murderer of King Laius so as to get rid of the city’s plague not knowing that this inches him closer to his fate.
Moreover as vehicle for uncovering the reality of the story, the past is placed in the middle of the story. The overall setting of the play displays a past embodied within its present (Driver 249), contrastingly, the actions as revealed in the story shows that it is the present that is enclosed in the past (Driver 249) as it comes out throughout the play, it occurs that every decision that was in the past has an effect on the present. Sophocles strongly eludes that Oedipus free willingness cannot outdo fate. After so many years, he thought that he had accomplished all that he could in avoiding marrying his mother and also murdering the father, he summons prophet Tiresia to know King Liaus’ murderer, unfortunate as fate could be, he is informed that he could be the murderer of his father and Tiresia further warns, “…you and your beloved ones live together in infamy, you cannot see how far you have gone in guilt.” Alluding to the mere fact that he and the mother live in that sinful act and he has all along no single idea that he has been going down the road of his fate no matter how hard he avoids it.
Conclusively enough the morality of this play is displayed in the workings of fate which no man can control despite the free will in making decisions. Fate always has a way of doing things in a bid to restore order and follow the fateful path, Oedipus tried countless times to change this fate, but in the end fate always took the lead.
Driver, Tom F. (1990). Oedipus the King. In Robert W. Corrigan (Ed.), Classical Tragedy Greek and Roman (pp. 246-250). New York, NY: Applause Theatre Book Pub. Print.
Poulheria K. (2011). The Past in Aeschylus and Sophocles (pp.7-10). Berlin. Walter de Gruyte Publishers. Print.