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Fate Vs Free Will In Sophocles´ Oedipus Rex And Shakespeare´S Macbeth

1854 words - 8 pages

Fate and free will are two topics that are often questionable because they go hand in hand. Fate is a belief that a certain event is said to happen, then that person's choice and free will lead them to what has been predicted as inevitable. Knowing whether something is fate’s fault or the fault of the person who’s going to enact the said action, is one question that has never been fully answered. In Sophocles' Oedipus Rex and Shakespeare's Macbeth, fate is determined by their own choices and free will, the character Macbeth knows of what lies ahead of him, making him alter the present to create his idealistic future, however instead he lives a life of ruins. As for Oedipus his entire actions are based on one prophecy he desperately attempts to avoid which later causes his unintentional demise. Oedipus by Sophocles and Macbeth by Shakespeare are both tragic plays that present a common fate, however, differ in action due to the amount of knowledge and ignorance.
In both plays, “Macbeth” and “Oedipus,” present similar plots that center on one main concept¬¬ -their protagonist’s fate- and reached their own resolution in response to their own prophecy. Both characters are foretold directly or indirectly what their destinies are going to be which inevitably became true. Macbeth is told by three witches that he is going to become king, and even though it is unclear if they possess supernatural powers, he still allows this said fate to become a reality in his mind and a goal to pursue. Similarly Oedipus is told by the Prophet of Thebes; Tiresias, he will murder his father and marry his mother. His awareness lead him with effort to escape such fate and even becomes certain he succeeded in doing so. However as a result, he cries out “I am agony…My Destiny, my dark power, what a leap you made” (Sophocles, pg. 1038). As Oedipus attempts to run and flee from the fate, it still “leaps” in front of him. It was the will of Oedipus to try and run from this prophecy, however fate is seemed to be one step ahead. (Ehrenberg). Oedipus' initial decision to leave Corinth, and fear of the prophecy was the start of his downfall. His lack of knowledge led him to his demise, because he possesses self-awareness, leads him to the action of free will which could have protected him from a defined fate.
In “Oedipus,” Sophocles writes about a man who is hunted down by his cruel fate, and whose life is ruined in attempt to run away from it. The ancient Greek perspective reflects on the matter of the story and how the god’s highly influence the lives of humans. This viewpoint basically shows the unbounded power the Greek gods have; by being the gods of destiny, and leaving man at a helpless position. Fate plays a massive role in the lives of humans and as was believed by the ancient Greeks, their lives were simply directed by a decision of gods and goddesses. Oedipus knew his fate set by a curse cast on him; however, even when being aware it is impossible to escape fate, he...

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