Oedipus the King: Fighting Fate
“A person often meets his destiny on the road he took to avoid it.” (Jean de la Fontaine), a sobering reminder of the extent to which Oedipus and his parents, Jocasta and Laius from the play Oedipus the King by Sophocles fight a predetermined course plotted for them by the gods and written by the oracles, only for it to transpire tragically. Despite the inevitability of destiny Oedipus, Laius and Jocasta defy fate with the entirety of their being, for to acknowledge the lack of free will is to live in anguish. Both Oedipus and his parents attempt to separate themselves from each other in an attempt to avoid their foretold fate. Unfortunately, they suffer the realization that, in spite of their intentions, their own actions had brought about their fated ends. As the play comes to a close, the remaining subjects of the prophecy use demonstrations of free will to comfort themselves.
Oedipus, the tragic hero of the play, is a proud man who reveals his drive to evade his cruel fate in how quickly and excessively he reacts upon hearing the prophecy of an incestuous relationship with his mother and patricide the gods had designed for him. He “[flees] away, putting stars/ Between [him] and Corinth, never to see home again” (Sophocles, 47) and murders a group of travelers who took notice of him, an undue precaution. By flying from his home in Corinth he hopes to foil the god’s plan by excommunicating those who he believes to be his parents. Oedipus finds refuge in Thebes and makes a rash decision. He sets up an obstacle to an incestuous relationship with his mother by marrying another, Jocasta, unaware that she is his mother. A committed relationship would make it socially unacceptable and morally distasteful to him to have relations with any other woman than one he is married to. Unfortunately for Oedipus what he believes is not true for he is ignorant of his true lineage. His Corinthian mother is his adoptive mother, Jocasta being...
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