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The Role of Free Will in Oedipus the King

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The Role of Free Will in Oedipus the King Fate is by definition the occurrence of inevitable events that are predestined to happen in a man's life. In literature, fate has a strong connection with the concept of free will because both can guide a character to a certain destiny. In Oedipus the King, written by the Sophocles, Oedipus's ominous fate of parricide and incest is prophesized by the Oracle at Delphi. However, it is not fate that led to Oedipus's destruction, but his overwhelming curiosity, impetuous actions, and irrational judgments. Oedipus's voracious curiosity forces him to discover the horrible truth of his crimes and ancestry. His curiosity often sets him unsatisfied, and provokes him to investigate many gratuitous details. In Corinth, a drunkard bawled out that Oedipus was "not [his] father's son" (44)1. Overwhelmed with frustration, Oedipus questions his parents about his identity. Although he got the desired response, he still feels that "the thing had hatched a scruple in [his] mind" (44). His superfluous curiosity encourages him to "steal away from home to Delphi, to the oracle" (44), where he then learns of the horrible prophecy. ...read more.


Oedipus frenetically eliminates the necessity of this pivotal piece of information to be interpreted thoughtfully first. His feral personality is shown again through his conversation with Jocasta. When she tries to prevent Oedipus from knowing the repugnant truth, Oedipus blindly accuses her of "bridling at [his] paltry origin" (60) with all "a woman's pride" (60). These officious words will become a part of ignorance and guilt he eventually has to bear. Although Oedipus's fierce actions play a major role in his future, his vague judgment also plays a crucial part. Oedipus's way of analyzing problems creates flaws that direct him to meet his destiny. As the King of Thebes, Oedipus does not fulfill the requirement of being a successful leader. He leads Thebes to "follow fifteen years" (3) of "a sham prosperity cloaking corruption" (3). It was not until Thebe is "struck by plague" (3) that Oedipus finally picked up the responsibility and asks for advice from the God. When Creon returns with advice from Apollo, Oedipus does not calmly interpret the God's message. Instead, he openly requests for the killer of Laius. ...read more.


if he is found unfaithful. However, Oedipus neglects Creon's fifteen years of loyalty and still claims to "want [him] dead" (34). By not giving Tiresias's prophecy a second thought and blindly accusing Creon, Oedipus extends his own dreadful deeds. His hatred towards Creon leads him to hear from Jocasta that Laius was murdered "at a spot where the road from Delphi meets the road from Daulia" (41). This incident strikes Oedipus as he recalls that he had killed some men at the same spot. From this point on, the truth began to unravel as Oedipus is urged to find the surviving herdsman of Laius. These anticipating events resulting from Oedipus's own problematic judgments cause him to meet his acrimonious destiny. Oedipus the King presents the inevitable fate of the main character, Oedipus, of incest and parricide. However, it is not the predetermined force of fate that drives Oedipus inescapably to his destiny. Free will and Oedipus's own choice are the main sources that destroyed his life. Oedipus, with his immense curiosities, rash actions, and inconsiderate judgments, led him to meet his own doom. ...read more.

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