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Destiny, Fate, Free Will and Free Choice in Oedipus the King – Power of Prophecy

The Power of Fate in Oedipus Rex (the King)

The underlying theme in Oedipus Rex is that fate is more powerful than free will. On this strong basis of fate, free will doesn’t even exist. This was a popular belief among the ancient Greeks. Fate may be accepted or denied by modern society, but in Oedipus’s story, fate proves inevitable. In the play, Oedipus Rex, the characters Oedipus, Iocaste and Laios try to change fate.

In the very beginning of the story, before we hear from the oracle, there is already foreshadowing of Oedipus’ impending doom. He, himself, states to the people, “Sick as you are, not one is as sick as I” (Sophocles 5). This statement is almost eerie when looking back upon it. Alone, it seems as if he knows that he is ill fated, but reading on he clarifies his pain in this way:

Each of you suffers in himself alone

His anguish, not another’s; but my spirit

Groans for the city, for myself, for you” (Sophocles 5).

His pain is not his future; it is the plague of the country. Oedipus was told by Teiresias that in his later years he would be the killer of his own father, and would marry his own mother. In his attempt to avoid this situation, he left both of his parents and traveled to a far away city called Thebes. Once there he was married to a woman, that he, himself, was positive was not his mother, for his mother was the woman that he had left back in Corinth. Also, being so far from his known home, there was no chance that he could kill his father whom he had also left behind. Oedipus thought he was safe, but he was not.

Oedipus is not the only one that tries to escape the curse. Iocaste also tried to escape the curse. She knows about it before Oedipus, himsel…

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…esume on his good fortune until he find pain

Life, at his death, a memory without pain (Sophocles 78).

Work Cited

Sophocles. “Oedipus Rex.” An Introduction to Literature, 11th ed.Eds. Sylvan Barnet, et al. New York: Longman, 1997.

1. You use a lot of appositives. Appositives are devices that rename something, “Oedipus, himself” or “Laios, the king” or “highwayman, a stranger.” The second name should be set off by commas: “Oedipus, himself.”

2. The character of Teiresias should be discussed in your conclusion since he embodies the truth about the absolute finality of fate, which is exactly what the other three characters failed to see.

3. Your paper should be organized so that each point, or each character is discussed in a separate paragraph and you stick to that character until you have fully discussed him or her.

Essay on Oedipus the King and Macbeth

Oedipus the King and Macbeth

Who would have thought that being a king would be so difficult? Oedipus and Macbeth are both kings that seem to have a lot of trouble staying king. The similarities do not stop there. Macbeth and Oedipus are similar in a variety of ways. The interesting thing is that they are also very different but still suffer the same fate. These similarities and differences teach us a valuable lesson about power.

Oedipus and Macbeth have one main similarity ­they are kings who take a fall through faults of their own. Both become kings by reacting to what the supernatural forces tell them. If the supernatural forces had never influenced the two, neither would have tried to become king. The role of supernatural forces is important for both heroes. The oracle instructs Oedipus to take revenge upon the murderer of the former king, Laios, in order to stop the plague; Macbeth is told by the three weird sisters that he will be king. How the two heroes interpret the messages of the supernatural forces is their downfall. Both interpret the messages as absolute fact. Macbeth becomes too confident because of the words of the sisters and gets himself killed. Oedipus tries to find the murderer of Laios only to discover that he himself is the killer. Both are very prosperous to begin with and would have lived long and comfortable lives if they had just left well enough alone. But these two teach us a lesson because they both are dethroned at the end of the plays. However, there are some big differences between the two and how they fall.

Oedipus is the better person of the two. He becomes king by saving the city of Thebes from the Sphinx, a very noble deed. Macbeth helps to save Scotland but is only one soldier in a huge army that fights off the attackers. Oedipus shows pride by thinking that he alone can save the city from the plague, but he wants to save the city, and he has the citizens first in his mind. Oedipus addresses the citizens:

Poor children! You may be sure I know

All that you longed for in your coming here.

I know that you are deathly sick; and yet,

Sick as your are, not one is as sick as I. (1019)

Macbeth, on the other hand, murders Duncan in cold blood to gain the kingship.

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