Critical Lens Essay
It has been noted that, "Life is like a game of cards. The hand you are dealt is determinism; the way you play it is free will." Fate is often thought to be predetermined by a higher being; it is inevitable. Free will is the complete opposite of fate, a person has the freedom to choose and decide his destiny. In the quote "the hand you are dealt" can be seen as fate, and "the way you play" is free will. In Oedipus the King, Sophocles shows that fate and free will go hand in hand.
Jocasta and Laius, Oedipus’ parents, do not pay attention to the prophecy given by the prophet Teiresias. He tells them their fate; the new born baby will kill his father and marry his mother. Both Jocasta and King Laius take precautions to make sure this prophecy does not take place. They rid their new born baby by sending him off to a shepherd who in turn will put him on a mountain to die. However in the end Oedipus kills Laius, becomes king, and marries Queen Jocasta, just as the oracle said. It is free will that makes Oedipus’ parents send him off to the mountain. Little do they know, he is not killed and they still met their fate. After Oedipus tells Jocasta about what he hears from Teiresias, Jocasta says “A prophet? In that case, rid your mind of your fear, and listen to me…there is no human being born that is endowed with prophetic power. And I can prove it to you – and in a few words...Don’t pay any attention to prophecies. If God seeks or needs anything, he will easily make it clear to us himself.” (41) She tells Oedipus that the prophecy the oracle told her about the baby she had in the past does not come through. While, Oedipus is standing right before her eyes and uses a true prophecy to defend her claim.
Oedipus himself makes choices that move him one step closer to his ultimate fate. “Now my curse on the murderer, whoever he is a lone man unknown in his crime or one among many, let that man drag out his life in agony, step by painful step…”...
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