After reading "Oedipus the King" and viewing the lectures on this play, explain the tension between fate and free will as it exists in the play. How would you describe the difference between the way that ancient Greek culture viewed these concepts and the way we do today? As you discuss the play's view of fate and free will, cite examples of dramatic irony and Oedipus' conflicts with other characters.
The Greek tragedy Oedipus the King, by Sophocles, was written to demonstrate the might of the gods, human fate is prearranged and that free will has a price. The gods power is evident throughout the story, particularly when people attempt to escape their fate; in the end man comes to discover that what the oracles predicts ultimately come to fruition. A fundamental theme of the Oedipus the King is the tension between free will and fate. While ones individual choices, such as Oedipus’s quest for his identity, are important, ultimately fate is responsible for Oedipus’s incest and several other climatic and desolate events of the play. Sophocles emphasizes the importance of fate and proposes the characters cannot bear the full responsibility for their actions. For instance, Oedipus cannot be entirely held accountable for, unknowingly, marrying his mother. Oedipus learns from the messenger that he is not the child of Polybus (Johnston, August 10, 2007)) but, Oedipus is in denial for he believes he is the son of Polybus. In lines 1030-1420 the truth is revealed, he is indeed the son of Jocasta. The origins of this play oblige the question about precognition and anticipation. The audience, who knew the myth, would know from the start far more than Oedipus himself, a firm example of dramatic irony. Furthermore, one of the themes the play considers as a corollary is whether or not you can escape your fate. In trying to murder her son, Jocasta finds him reborn as her husband. Running from Corinth, from his parents, Oedipus murders his father on the way. It seems that...
Please join StudyMode to read the full document