Fate vs Free Will

Topics: Oedipus, Sophocles, Greek mythology Pages: 4 (1655 words) Published: January 14, 2010
Oedipus The King: Fate Vs. Free Will

The ancient Greek writer, Sophocles suggests that while there are factors beyond mankind’s control that we have the power to make choices that affect our destiny. In his play, Oedipus the King, Sophocles makes it quite clear that although everyone is born with a fate, you have the ability to alter its direction and toll. The main character of the play, Oedipus, is based on the way Sophocles portrays the equilibrium between fate and freewill, and shows the reader, how one can alter his destiny through the hand of free will. This play shows an underlying relationship of man's free will existing within the cosmic order or fate that the Greeks believed guided the universe. Man was free to choose and was held responsible for his own actions. Both the concepts of fate and free will played an essential part in Oedipus' destruction. Although he was a victim of fate, he was not controlled by it. One example of Oedipus showing his free will is in the beginning of the play when there is a plague in Thebes that can only be stopped by finding King Laius’ killer. Oedipus tells Creon that he curses the killer of Lauis to live in exile, “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” (Line 280-283). This quote shows free will because Oedipus tells Creon that whoever is the killer of Lauis, he is going to send him to exile in the mountains. He could have investigated the murder, but in his hastiness, he condemns the murderer, and in so, unknowingly curses himself. This example shows that although his fate is predetermined, he has the power to change its direction. In order for Sophocles' play to be categorized as tragic, the tragic hero had to have some sort of flaw. The hero’s tragic flaws are the qualities, which lead to his downfall. Oedipus’ pride, ignorance, insolence towards the gods, and unrelenting quest for the truth...
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