Fate vs. Free Will

Topics: Free will, Oedipus, Jocasta Pages: 3 (1058 words) Published: August 25, 2013
“What fates impose, that men must needs abide; It boots not to resist both wind and tide” – William Shakespeare. Comment on how true this statement is in showing that the divine intervention attributed to Oedipus’ downfall in Oedipus The King.  

I disagree with the statement to a certain extent that man is predestined to fulfil his own fate and ultimately any form of intervention towards his destiny would only prove to be futile. In Oedipus the King, Oedipus’ past actions were determined by fate, but what he did in Thebes was out of his own free will, thus he is responsible for his own downfall. However in some instances, I feel that fate played a part in the destruction of Oedipus as he was destined from birth to someday murder his father and bed his mother. This prophecy, as warned by the oracle of Apollo at Delphi, would inevitably come to pass, no matter how he tried to avoid it.  

In Oedipus the King, fate serves as the antagonist in the play and is responsible for the downfall of Oedipus. There are certain elements that leads him to his destruction, which he had no control over, thus it is undeniably not his free will that causes his own downfall, but rather the predetermined circumstances that eventually leads him to fulfil the prophecy. One such example would be when Laius learnt of the prophecy that he “should die a victim at the hands of his own son”, he pierced young Oedipus’ ankles and “had (Oedipus) cast out upon a hillside to die”. If he had not done so, Oedipus would have ran away from him and Jocasta, just like how he ran away from his adoptive parents in Corinth to avoid the prophecy, thus the prophecy would not have come to pass. It is also because of fate that causes his chanced meeting with Oedipus at the crossroads and when he ended up being murdered by his own son, do we know that while man may try to change his fate, ultimately, he cannot escape from it.  

Another example would be when Oedipus attempts to thwart fate by fleeing Corinth...
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