Oedipus Rex: Your Character Is Your Fate

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Does character determine fate, or is fate responsible for shaping one’s character? In Sophocles’ dramatic tragedy, Oedipus Rex, character plays a very important role in determining the protagonist’s fate. The extent to which this occurs is difficult to conclude, for during the play it seems character isn’t the only factor that led to the final result. Although character can be influenced by external circumstances, a situation’s outcome will be arrived to as a result of the decisions an individual’s personality has predestined him to make. Aspects of Oedipus’ character are presented to us almost from the very beginning of the play. His impetuosity, the swiftness of his thoughts and actions, is imminent from the moment in which the citizens of Thebes come to him requesting that he do something about the plague. The fact that he already has sent Creon in search for answers to the oracle in Delphi, and his ability to anticipate his subjects’ needs makes him an excellent and extremely qualified ruler. On the other hand, this same impulsiveness is what guides him towards accomplishing his fate exactly as it has been preordained. Oedipus makes imprudent decisions throughout the play, decisions the haste in his character doesn’t allow him to think through thoroughly before acting upon. These range from the insulting of Teiresias or the murdering of his father, to his sudden flee from Corinth, and they all mount on top of one another, to end up condemning Oedipus “by his own proclamation” (Sophocles 31). The first step Oedipus makes towards what results in his destiny’s fulfilment is leaving his home in Corinth. His sudden departure comes as soon as he learns of his fate through the oracle, but it is not until he knows what he is fated to do and tries to avoid it that he involuntarily comes closer to carrying it out. This knowledge unleashes the hastiness of his character, and, without knowing it, he heads towards his meeting with destiny. Character, therefore,...
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