The Role of Fate in Oedipus Rex
Before we approach this complex question inductively, we are at first obliged to contemplate what definitions and assumptions are being made. This essay, perhaps more so than others, requires a more extensive look at this aspect of the question, because of the sheer variety of possible responses. However, I now have reduced them to three possibilities. Firstly, we could make the assumption that perhaps as destiny controls all fates, then Oedipus' character was created long before he was conceived. On the other hand, we could also say that perhaps Oedipus' horrific fate came about because of his character and fate. The final possibility is that everything is inevitable - therefore no one ever has had any say in their own fate, let alone Oedipus. In this essay I would like to discuss these three ideas, and perhaps draw a conclusion at the end on which I feel to be the most valid.
The first solution to this question, as I said earlier, is the idea that destiny makes character. As destiny supposedly in the Greek mindset maps out all events before they occur, we can today assume with this logic that perhaps the components that "built" Oedipus' character were caused by fate. We know today that character is determined by biological factors and experience. These biological factors would have been determined by how well he was fed, how well he developed, his genes etcetera. The experience would have also been determined by the pre-destined master plan of Fate. Thus it is possible to argue that Oedipus, as components of his character and mind, was entirely shaped by fate and therefore cannot be held responsible for what he has done, as he has no control over his actions.
But the premises that these arguments are based on are fundamentally flawed. In my opinion, fate does not exist. Yet, as this is a personal choice analogous to religious belief in the sense that there can be no definitive argument for or against, we cannot rationally conclude decisively either way. Yet if would be interesting to note that as this play is constructed along the lines of Aristotle's theory of tragedy, the way in which the play is constructed would try to convey the sentiment that fate was the overriding factor and thus could be a valid basis for the argument just outlined. But if we were to look at the play and interpret it according to our own value judgement system, then we could just as easily reject this premise. It all depends on how we would like to approach the play. And as there is no definitive, positive way of doing this, neither way can be said to be "right" or "wrong".
The next solution that I outlined to this problem was the idea that it could be a amalgamation of both destiny and character. At first this would seem to be a complete paradox, but if we extrapolate upon these ideas it should become clear. After all, how can anyone's character have any consequence if destiny is at work? During Oedipus we see many...