“Oedipus the King” by Sophocles: Fate Versus Character

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Events in the life of a man are occasioned by circumstances that have been preordained from the start of time. It therefore follows that fate not character is responsible for most tragedies that occur in the life of humans. Generally, human nature has no ability to control the way events occur. Therefore, tragedy befalling someone cannot be used to determine his moral fiber. A prime example is demonstrated in the play Sophocles through the character of Oedipus the King. In the play, Oedipus’ life has several incidences of doom from his birth. The major interpretation coming out in the play is that no man on the planet can thwart his destiny. The play also displays the king as a person with tremendous leadership qualities with people’s interest at heart. Therefore, his destiny is not brought by ungodly arrogance or awful imperfections but by fate. (Builder)

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In the play Oedipus confronts different forces of fate in order to avoid failure. In the first instance, Oedipus is driven by passion and love to reunite with his biological parents leaving behind the royalty accorded to him in Corinth by King Pollibus. To do this he has to kill many soldiers who could have blocked him from getting to his destiny. In the process he ends up killing his father. Afterward, he faces personal guilt which leaves his life very miserable. Above all, he desolately fails in his great effort to change his destiny. Earlier in his life, his father King Laius tried to kill him by sending his most trusted servant to execute the plot. However due to fate, the slave decided to disobey his king. He had mercy on the infant boy and put him in the nearby kingdom where he was adopted by King Polibus. Upon his adoption, he assumed the same title of being the king’s first son. Therefore he was still entitled to assume the royal throne upon the king’s demise. From a royal setting to another, this clearly shows the role that fate played in this development. (Else)

The tragic death of King Laius leads to great pain to people of the Thebes Kingdom. Interestingly, the death of this regal man was caused by Oedipus his son. He did this unawares but it had to happen since it had been prophesied long ago. Sophocles demonstrates a major argument in the play that King Oedipus killed as an act of self-defense not due to belief in seers. At the same time Oedipus killed the Sphinx that had become a menace to the people. Consequently, Sphinx death made Oedipus a hero among the people and following the vacancy in the kingship, through fate he was made the king to succeed his father. (Steiner)

According to tradition, the new king was to take charge of the departed king’s household as the husband as well as attain full control of the throne. Fortunately, the king had left a young attractive widow. Oedipus for that reason took the kings wife without any hesitation. Queen Jocasta agreed to marry this energetic and brave man to lead the people. A son and his mother thus became married. This couple however never had any information on their blood relationship. In their marriage life, the couple was blessed with twin brothers and two sisters. Thus, the king became brothers to his sons. Notably, Oedipus left Corinth with good intentions. His departure in turn led to his father’s death, something King Lauis had attempted to escape by killing his son. By killing the dangerous Sphinx, the youthful Oedipus won Queen Jacasta’s heart. Therefore, it would be right to argue that fate not immorality was responsible for Oedipus marriage. (Else)

The events in this play clearly show that fate defines the ways of man. This happens despite the nature of our character. Though man may try running from some things fate always has a way of bringing them to pass. This clearly brings out the famous saying that “what goes round always comes around”.

Works Cited

Builder. Greek Tragedy. 2007.Web.

Else, Gerald. Aristotle’s Poetics: The Argument. Cambridge: Harvard UP, 1957. Print.

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Steiner, George. The Death of Tragedy.1961. New York: Oxford UP.Print.

Glaspell, Susan Literature: An introduction to fiction, poetry, drama, and writing. ED.X.J. Kennedy and Dana Gioia. 10th ed. Part3, drama. New York: peasron Longman, 2007.

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