Oedipus and Destiny

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The story of Oedipus The King revolves around Oedipus' voyage to avoid his own fate, something that in the end he cannot do. This literary work raises many questions regarding fate and its control over our lives, and more interestingly, our control over it – yet never gives us an answer which we can draw a solid conclusion from. One could prove that Oedipus' decisions and actions are the factors that affect his life, but whether or not "fate" can also encompass a control over one's actions is a question that cycles back to the question of control over fate.

In Sophocles' play we are introduced to Oedipus, the protagonist, whose actions and fate determine the course of his life and ultimately lead to his downfall, but the question of whether it was strictly fate or strictly his actions remains to be answered. When Oedipus goes to the Oracle Apollo, the Oracle predicts what will ultimately become of Oedipus, but he does not control Oedipus' life and actions. It could be said that Oedipus determines his conduct by being the type of man he is and takes steps under free will. His decision to hear Creon's message with others in attendance, his promise to avenge the king's murder and his drive to learn the truth were all actions driven by his character and conducted under free will. His actions in the play show that it could be free will, not fate, that leads to the discovery of the murder of his father and marriage to his mother. On the opposite side of this, though, is the fact that through all of Oedipus' attempts to dodge his fate, he fulfills what he had been told was his destiny, thus proving fate to be true.

An example of Oedipus making a clear personal choice that affects his life is after Creon returns from Delphi with news from Apollo. Creon suggests that he speak to Oedipus in private, and tells Oedipus "If you want my report in the presence of these… [pointing to the priest while drawing Oedipus to the palace] I'm ready now, or we might go inside."...
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