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Destiny, Fate, Free Will and Free Choice in Oedipus the King – Fate and the Modern World

Oedipus Rex, Fate, and the Modern World

In the two thousand since “Oedipus Rex” was written, it has been analyzed and dissected innumerable times and in every possible way. Usually the analysis has been within the context of the play itself or within the context of other Greek tragedies. Perhaps it would be more relevant and interesting to evaluate the play within the context of the modern world.

In his play Sophocles brings up many questions which are not easily answered. Does man ha free will? What responsibilities does a man have for his own actions? Should the inferior human intellect and poor human reasoning be placed above obedience to one’s God or gods?

Neither Sophocles nor the Greeks originated these questions. Thousands of years before the time of the Greeks man worried that his life, and therefore his fate, was determined by very powerful gods. Hence much time and energy was spent praying and asking the gods to utilize divine intervention to provide better hunting, weather, food, and other forms of good fortune.

Thousands of years of superstition and spiritual worship evolved into Greeks’ religion, which was based on mythology and the belief that gods of the Olympus controlled the lives of men. Sophocles brings to light the Greeks’ beliefs in several scenes as the gods are consulted through the oracles. In one scene, Iokaste tells Oedipus that an oracle told Laios that his doom would be death at the hands of his own son. His son born of his flesh and mine (II. 214-220). Iokaste and Laios had asked an oracle about their baby’s future (Oedipus) to have better understanding of the child’s fate. Upon receiving this information, and realizing the tragic destiny o…

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…learn there, I f he can,

What act or pledge of mine may save the city.

(II. 72-77)

As the Greeks did two thousand years ago, the Indians of Guatemala do today. Oracles are consulted about every important event in their life. Not only do they go to their future, they also make many futile attempts to change their destiny by offering food, money, alcohol or cigars to Maximon, Culiatlec, Kielem, or whatever god they believe to have the strongest powers. Without access to resources or education, the Mayan Indian is destined to work his small plot of land and barely survive on a diet of beans and tortillas. He will dye young from hard work just as his father, grand father, and every other ancestor since the beginning of time. If he tries to change his fate by taking up arms against his oppressor, he will dye even younger. In the same way

Illusion Verses Reality in Death of a Salesman by Arthur Miller

Illusion Verses Reality in Death of a Salesman by Arthur Miller

“Death of A Salesman,” by Arthur Miller, is a play that tells the story of a traveling salesman, Willy Loman, who encounters frustration and failure as he reflects on and experiences his own life. Willy’s quest for the American Dream leads to his failure because throughout his life, he pursues the illusion of the American Dream and not the reality of it. His mindset on perfection, his obsession with success, and his constant reminiscence of the past and foretelling of the future, all contribute to his defeat in the end.

The reality of the American Dream is that people are capable of succeeding. Success, though, requires one to work hard and be dedicated to both his/her professional life and family life. Yet, the illusion of the Dream is that attaining material prosperity defines success. Failing to acknowledge the importance of hard work in achieving the American Dream is another aspect of the illusion.

By ignoring the present, Willy fails to deal with reality. He has a tendency of living in the past and thinking of the future. He always thinks that if he had done something differently then this could have happened, or things will get better as time passes. His habit of distorting the past, never allows Willy to realize what is going on right then and there in the present. At one time, when Willy goes off down memory lane, he “says” to Biff and Happy, “America is full of beautiful towns and fine, upstanding people. And they know me, boys?the finest people?there?ll be open sesame for all of us, ?cause one thing boys: I have friends. I can park my car in any street?and the cops protect it like their own” (31). Willy makes this distortion of the pa…

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Willy Loman portrays a “common man”, who lives a life that is purely an illusion. Although Willy has good intentions, his tragic flaw is that he focuses only on the appearance of the American Dream and never on the reality, the work ethic, or how to achieve it. Willy brings about his own downfall, his defeat, because he tries to pursue this “superficial” idea. Miller includes this theme of the American Dream in his social criticism in an attempt to portray the deviation in the values of society. For instance, materialism and technological advances, causes the American Dream to change as times changes. The salesman is a position that has declining importance at the time. He shows that an individual?s values are based on what society has established. Yet, as society changes, the values one has may not, causing conflict between the society and the individual.

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