Thursday, July 12, 2012

Oedipus Rex - fate vs freewill

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Oedipus the King

(Oedipus Rex)

Oedipus the King was written by Sophocles in 45 B.C. This play was one of the greatest tragedies of all time. Oedipus’s downfall is due to both fate and freewill. Yes, it was fate that oedipus was to kill his father and marry and have children with his mother, but it was his freewill that led him to this fate. His arrogant, aggressive and stubborn personality pushed him right down a path that complied directly with his pre-ordained fate.

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Thebes had been struck by a plague . The people were very sick and when they went to the priest to help, he told them that only the king could save the city. So, they all turned to Oedipus for their salvation. Oedipus then has Creon his brother-in-law go to speak with the oracle of Delphi. When Creon returned he told Oedipus that the reason for the curse that had fallen on Thebes was because the person who killed Liaus was still living in the city .He told him that Oedipus must get that person out of Thebes and take his revenge out on him. Creon goes on to finish what the oracle has told him and starts to get to the point in the story where he is about to say that Oedipus is the murderer, when Oedipus completely loses his temper and starts screaming that Creon is a traitor and is committing treason and he wants him exiled and put to death. His wife comes in and puts a stop to this, considering that Creon is her brother. This is just the first of many instances where Oedipus’ arrogant and aggressive personality inhibit him from putting a stop to or trying to do anything to fight the prophecies that he keeps being told from coming true.

After this confrontation with Creon he decides to begin his hunt for Liars’s murderers. The story that has been told about his un-timely death is that it was a gang of robbers that killed Liaus. He sends for a prophet named Tiresias who tells him that he knows who the murderer is , but he wishes that he didn’t. This answer only aggravates Oedipus even more to the point where he again loses his temper and starts screaming at the prophet that unless he said what he knew, he would be killed. Tiresias finally just comes out and says that oedipus himself is the curse that he himself is the murderer that he is looking for. After this Oedipus’ arrogant self now concocts the idea that Creon and Tiresias are against him and trying to overthrow him. If he would have just listened he could have avoided himself a lot of work and trying times.

Now, the main point is that the reason he left his home in the first place was because a prophet had told him way back then that he was going to kill his father and marry his mother. Then, on the way to Thebes he ran into some travelers on the road who were very rude, so he started a fight with them that ended up in the death of all but one of them. This could all have been avoided very easily. At the point where he murders these men on the road he has already been told that it was his fate to murder his father. Now, if somebody is told this is their fate and it was one that they wanted to avoid, the common sensible thing to do would be to not murder anyone in the near future. But, Oedipus takes no heed at all to any of his warnings. This was his choice to be intolerably arrogant, stubborn, and hot-headed This was his freewill. If it had not been for these flaws that he had acquired in his personality then maybe he would have taken heed when he was told what he was told and wouldn’t have killed his father.

Yes, it was his fate to kill his father and marry his mother, but he was told this in advance. He had every chance in the world to avoid this. He could have made sure that he would not kill anyone and he should have steered clear of all older women. This was his free will that brought these downfalls upon him and into his life. Yes, it was fated, but he also made the choices himself to kill that man on the road that wound up being his father and to marry the older woman that was obviously was old enough to be his mother. If while he was on the road he could have just controlled his temper and showed some self -control he could have avoided this fate. So, it was his fate and his freewill that led his to this awful demise.

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