Fate and Free Will
Fate and free will are two opposing yet connected ideas that play a large role in Oedipus Rex. Fate is the idea in which one’s destiny is predetermined and unchangeable; free will is an opposing concept in which one has the freedom to choose and decide one’s own fate. It seems that fate and free will go hand-in-hand in this tragedy; Oedipus’ parents had the free will to take fate into their own hands. It is a vicious cycle and one in which the characters make decisions to avoid fate when, in reality, they are laying the groundwork for their own downfall. In Oedipus, an ancient Greek tragedy, fate and free will play a large role in the lives of the main characters and in their interactions with one another, ultimately leading to each individual’s downfall; if alternative decisions had been made, the outcome (their fate) may have been different.
Oedipus’ situation is presented in a manner which is both complex and unsettling, “To the children whom he lives now he will be/Brother and father—the very same; to her/Who bore him, son and husband—the very same/Who came to his father’s bed, wet with his father’s blood” (441-445); at first glance, it appears that Oedipus is the cursed being although this is not actually the case. As Oedipus is a product of his father and his mother, he takes on their burden, their cursed fate. Oedipus’ parents, King Laios and Queen Jocasta, are the true cursed beings as they are scared into taking fate into their own hands. As they try to avoid their own fate by attempting to take control of the situation by destroying their son, the king and queen are setting themselves up for disaster. Oedipus grows up to learn of his fate and is sent down the disastrous path his birth parents have created for him. If Laios and Jocasta had ignored the prophecy, the outcome of their fate may have played out differently. Here, the audience may conclude that although fate seems to take focus on Oedipus, it is actually his...
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