Knowledge Brings Sorrow; Fate vs. Free Will
The themes of “fate versus free will” and “knowledge brings sorrow” are present throughout the play Oedipus Rex, by Sophocles. Fate and free will are antitheses of each other, just as knowledge and sorrow are.
Many years before Oedipus began his journey to Thebes, his father, King Laius, heard a prophecy saying that his son would kill him (65). In order to prevent this from happening, Laius had the baby abandoned, and had his feet bound together with a nail for extra precaution. Since prophecies usually turned out to be true, this is an example of how Laius tried to escape his fate. However, he didn’t know that Oedipus survived. On his way to Thebes, Oedipus ran into Laius on the road, not knowing he was his father. He ended up killing him, just as the prophecy said.
The prophecy also said that Oedipus would marry his mother. You can infer that fate yet again fulfills its role, and the prophecy becomes true after Oedipus kills his father and continues to Thebes. Just as Oedipus didn’t know that Laius was his father, he didn’t know that Jocasta was his mother. He became the new king of Thebes because he married Jocasta (65). Throughout the play, Oedipus believes that all of his actions are based on free will, not fate. He doesn’t find out that he killed his father and married his mother until awhile after it happened. Everything that happens to Oedipus is really his fate. Once Jocasta and Oedipus Strineka 2
realize they are mother and son, Jocasta kills herself. Here, fate plays another role. Free will really isn’t present in this play. Everything that happens is due to fate. As Amit Sodha said, “All events are fated in some way.” This is also where “knowledge brings sorrow” comes into play. Because Jocasta and Oedipus found out that they were mother and son, Jocasta kills herself and Oedipus gouges out his eyes. They do not want to accept the fact that they were mother and son and married. Sodha also said “The...
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