Greek tragedies often establish free will and fate as the driving forces of the conflict. In Oedipus the King, written by Sophocles,

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Lauren Lazar                                                                   September 27, 2005

Paper #1                                                                   English 7- Prof. Hedin

Greek tragedies often establish free will and fate as the driving forces of the conflict.  In Oedipus the King, written by Sophocles, Oedipus, the son of king Laius and Jocasta, has free will which ultimately leads him to finding out his fate.  Oedipus’ freedom is what guides him to his destiny.   The choices that Oedipus makes determine how fast or slow he is going to find out about his fate.  It is possible for him to not have found out about his fate at all.  It is his free will that determines some of his actions.  There are several instances when Oedipus’ freedom allows him to make choices that were not prescribed in his fate.  Oedipus chooses to find Laius’ assassin.  In addition, he takes his punishment upon himself.  His learning of his past leads to his downfall and the outcome of his life.  

Oedipus was born to king Laius and queen Jacosta.   Upon his birth the king is informed by an oracle that their son is going to grow up and murder his father and marry his mother. To protect himself and his wife, the king sends him away to be killed.  However, Oedipus is saved by a shepherd and brought to the home of a married couple, who raises him as their own.  Years later, while traveling through the countryside, Oedipus is confronted by a man that he ultimately kills.  The man he killed was his father, king Laius  (this was set up to be part of Oedipus’ fate).  Continuing his journey, Oedipus meets the Sphinx who tells Oedipus a riddle.  When Oedipus solves this riddle, he is given the honor to be the king of Thebes and the husband of Jocasta.   Thus, Oedipus kills his father and marries his mother.  He has now fulfilled his destiny.

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Later, the city of Thebes becomes plagued.  The God Apollo mandates from the heavens that the only way to rid the plague that haunts the city, is to find out who murdered Laius. “Relief from the plague can only come in one way.  Uncover the murderers of Laius, put them to death or drive them to exile” (349-51).  Oedipus, determined to rid Thebes of the plague, searches to find out who the murderer is.  Tiresias, a blind prophet who knows the whole story, but is vowed to silence, advises Oedipus that a  search for the murderer may not be prudent. ...

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