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Oedipus the King - Fate Vs Free Will

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Not Chosen Wisely

The events in Oedipus the King, written by Sophocles, show that man is free to choose the actions they take and are ultimately held responsible them. It was not fate that caused the tragedy of the story because the characters intelligently make every decision out of their own free will. Laius, Jocasta, Oedipus and even the Sheppard are all given the opportunity to make a different decision. Although it may be argued that no matter what any of the characters did in the play their fate or destiny was predetermined by the gods, one's fate cannot be decided based on what might happen but the decisions that they choose to make.

From the beginning of this tragedy, Oedipus took many actions leading to his own downfall. Oedipus could have let the plague continue on, but out of compassion for his suffering people, he chooses to have Creon go to Delphi to find out why his people are cursed. When he learned of Apollo's word, he could have calmly investigated the murder of the former King Laius, but in his hastiness, he passionately curses the murderer, and in so, unknowingly curses himself. He says, "Whether it be a lurking thief, or one of a number---- I pray that that man's life be consumed in evil and wretchedness. And as for me, this curse applies no less."(Ode I 30-32) Oedipus' unyielding desire to uncover the truth about Laius' murder and the mystery surrounding his own birth, led him to the tragic realization of his horrific deeds. Teiresias, Jocasta and the herdsman tried to stop him from pursuing the truth. Take for example a part of the last conversation between Jocasta and Oedipus. After realizing that the prophecy came true, Jacasta begs him to just let the mystery go unsolved for once. She says," For God's love, let us have no more questioning! Is your life nothing to you?" (Ode III 140-142) If he just stopped the search for the truth and went on with his life he would never have known that he killed his father and married his mother. His mother would not have chosen to commit suicide and Oedipus would not have removed his eyes and exiled himself. Everything that happened was a matter of free will.

When Laius and Jocasta finds out from an oracle of Apollo that their newborn baby, Oedipus will one day kill his father, they abandon their child. They pierce his ankles together, leaving him in the elements to die on a mountainside. However, a kind shepherd takes the child and gives him to a messenger as a gift instead of leaving him there to die. Just in that portion of the play there is evidence to show that each character was given a choice. If Jocasta and Laius choose not abandoned their child, then Oedipus would have grown up knowing his father was Laius. They could have found an alternative for trying to avoid the curse instead leaving Oedipus to die. For example, keeping him locked up in a room all his



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