Destiny, Fate, Free Will And Free Choice In Oedipus The King Power Of Prophecy

1009 words - 4 pages

The Power of Fate in Oedipus Rex (the King)

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.

 

In the very beginning of the story, before we hear from the oracle, there is already foreshadowing of Oedipus' impending doom. He, himself, states to the people, "Sick as you are, not one is as sick as I" (Sophocles 5). This statement is almost eerie when looking back upon it. Alone, it seems as if he knows that he is ill fated, but reading on he clarifies his pain in this way:

 

Each of you suffers in himself alone

His anguish, not another's; but my spirit

Groans for the city, for myself, for you" (Sophocles 5).

 

His pain is not his future; it is the plague of the country. Oedipus was told by Teiresias that in his later years he would be the killer of his own father, and would marry his own mother. In his attempt to avoid this situation, he left both of his parents and traveled to a far away city called Thebes. Once there he was married to a woman, that he, himself, was positive was not his mother, for his mother was the woman that he had left back in Corinth. Also, being so far from his known home, there was no chance that he could kill his father whom he had also left behind. Oedipus thought he was safe, but he was not.

 

Oedipus is not the only one that tries to escape the curse. Iocaste also tried to escape the curse. She knows about it before Oedipus, himself, knows. She first hears the prophecy just days after Oedipus is born and cannot stand to live with him any more. She sends him off to be killed, thinking that she had stopped the prophecy from happening, she worries no more. Iocaste does not know the whole truth though. She does not know that the shepherd had actually disobeyed her. The shepherd whom she gave the baby to disobeyed her, and didn't kill the child. Instead, in pity, he sent the baby away far enough that he thought the foretelling would not be in effect. Again this did not stop fate. Once Oedipus found out that the people he had known, as his parents were not his blood relatives, Iocaste found out what had actually happened. "For God's love, let us have no more questioning! /Is your life nothing to you? /My own is pain enough for me to bear" (Sophocles 55). These were a few of her last words. Fate took her life.

 

Laïos, the king was also not free of the curse. He had found about it first and was the person who ordered Iocaste to get rid of the child. This did...

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