Fate vs Free Will in Oedipus

Topics: Oedipus, Oedipus the King, Aeschylus Pages: 3 (1193 words) Published: October 18, 2012
In Oedipus the King by Sophocles, Oedipus is responsible for the tragedy of his downfall. Fate and free will are two opposing ideas that Sophocles seamlessly blends into the play. Sophocles ultimately leaves it up to the audience to interpret the reality behind this argument. Oedipus is presented with a series of choices throughout the play, and his arrogant and stubborn nature push him to impulsively make the wrong decisions, the decisions that ultimately lead him to his downfall. While Oedipus and those around him consider "fate" the source of Oedipus' problems, Oedipus' decisions show the audience that it is he who is responsible. Sophocles is able to drive his message about the pitfalls of human arrogance through Oedipus' fatal flaws and the use of metaphorical and literal blindness. Perhaps the most obvious reason Oedipus is responsible is that by the end of the play Oedipus has taken responsibility for his actions. Oedipus states, "Now loathed by the gods, son of the mother I defiled coupling in my fathers bed, spawning lives in the loins that spawned my wretched life. What grief can crown this grief? It's mine alone, my destiny-I am Oedipus!" (Sophocles 1492). Oedipus clearly declares that he defiled his mother, he coupled with her in his father's bed. The grief is his alone. Even though he may believe that this was his destiny, he takes responsibility for fulfilling it. Oedipus has no trouble seeing the error of his ways by the end of the play, as he states, "...I was so wrong, so wrong" (Sophocles 1557). Although Oedipus takes responsibility, he is not the only person to blame. Ultimately, the blame could fall on Jocasta and Laius, Oedipus' biological parents. The couple was warned that their child was cursed early on, but instead of having Oedipus killed and actually seeing it through, they carelessly had baby Oedipus pinned down on a mountain. Jocasta and Laius never actually made sure that Oedipus was killed. Oedipus references this at the end of the...
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