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Fate Versus Free Will In Oedipus The King By Sophocles

910 words - 4 pages

Oedipus the King is play that tells of a renowned king and his struggle between free will and his alleged fate. Oedipus was prophesized to kill his father and marry his mother. After learning about the prophecy, Oedipus immediately takes action by leaving his hometown of Corinth and avoiding his supposed parents. In Oedipus the King, Sophocles shows that Oedipus' actions contribute to his downfall; it is his vain short temper, enormous pride, and impulsive nature that cause him to make the decisions that set into action the course of events that not only lead to his own doom, but ironically the fate he tries so desperately to escape.
Oedipus the King is ripe with examples of Oedipus' short temper. When the blind prophet, Tiresias, first comes to Thebes and refuses to tell Oedipus of what he knows, the king gets angry and starts to verbally assault him. Tiresias, fed up, tells Oedipus that he is the murderer (Sophocles line 413). This, of course, doesn't soothe Oedipus' anger and sends him into a fit of rage. Thus, he accuses his brother in-law of treason: “I see it all, the marauding thief himself scheming to steal my crown and power” (Sophocles lines 596-598). Without the ridiculous outbursts of rage he, would have never killed Laius and these fateful events would not have unfolded. Oedpius' anger isn't quelled easily due to his inflated ego.
Self-proclaimed champion of Apollo (Sophocles lines 154-155), Oedipus is clearly an arrogant individual. This is shown firsthand when Tiresias comes to the palace. Oedipus welcomes him with open arms proclaiming, “O Tiresias, master of the mysteries in our life... Blind as you are, you can feel all the more what sickness haunts our city. You, my lord, are the one shield, the one savior we can find” (Sophocles lines 340-346). However, Oedipus disregards Tiresias after he reveals Oedipus as Laius' murderer: “Your words are nothing – futile” (Sophocles 416-417). Oedipus brushes off the prophet's message he had planned to honor; Oedipus doesn't question his actions at all during this transgression. Confidence is an important attribute for a leader, but being egotistical leads to rash behavior.
Oedipus repeatedly displays his impulsive and borderline reckless decision making throughout the play. In the beginning of the drama, Sophocles shows Oedipus as a decisive ruler. He immediately sends Creon to Delphi to find out how to end the plague (Sophocles lines 70-88). As per the rules of a classic tragedy, one of the traits that makes Oedipus a great ruler leads to his demise. As Oedipus recounts his murders at the Three Crossroads, the audience is...

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