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Oedipus the King: Free Will or Fate?

Oedipus the King: Free Will or Fate?

A common debate that still rages today is whether we as a species have free will or if some divine source, some call it fate, controls our destiny. The same debate applies to Oedipus the King and Oedipus at Colonus. Does Oedipus control his actions, or are they predetermined by the gods? It’s that question that makes Oedipus a classic, and many different people think many different things.

With all the oracles and talk of prophecies, its obvious that there is some divine intervention in Oedipus. But how strong is it, and how much control does Oedipus really have? Fate, or divine will, manifests itself in a number of ways. First, in Oedipus at Colonus, there is the oracle at Delphi that tells Oedipus’s parents and then himself that he will kill his father and marry his mother. It does end up happening, proving divine intervention occurs. Later, the prophet Tiresias tells Oedipus exactly what the oracle did, making himself another example of divine will, that is, the gods speak through him.

Divine intervention is abundant in Oedipus at Colonus, too. In it, Oedipus tries to gain sympathy for himself by saying all the sins he committed in the previous play were the work of fate, thus proving the point of divine intervention in Oedipus the King. There are examples of divine intervention that are only in Oedipus at Colonus, like all the prophecies from the oracle. First, it is said that the city Oedipus is buried in will be blessed forever. Second, it is told that whoever has Oedipus on their side for the war will win. Lastly, it predicts that Oedipus’s sons will kill each other in battle. All three prophecies come true, thus proving the existence of divine intervention.

Divine intervention is definitely present, but free will has its place too. Before the play even starts, Oedipus makes the choice to leave his “parents” and move to Thebes. He then chooses, though ruled by anger, to kill an old man blocking his path, who later is discovered to be his real father, King Laius. Sure, it was fate that made Oedipus kill his father, but free will that made him kill Laius that day, in that way.

After discovering she married her son, Jocasta makes the choice to kill herself. Nothing intervened or predicted her death, it was her choice.

Irony, Satire, Symbols, and Symbolism in Voltaire’s Candide

Use of Irony, Satire, and Symbolism in Candide

In the novel, Candide, Voltaire uses many literary writing tools to prove the points in which he believes. Some of these many literary tools are irony, satire, and symbolism. Through these tools, Voltaire proves that greed is a universal vice, and usually ends in ones own destruction.

Voltaire strongly emphasizes his pessimistic view throughout the story. During Chapter 10, he uses his philosophies, as well as other literary tools, to present greed as a devastating factor of society’s corruption. For example, Cunegonde found that someone had stolen her money and jewels. “Who could have stolen my money and diamonds? …I strongly suspect a reverend Franciscan who slept in the same inn with us last night in Badajoz.”(Pg. 40) She was sure that the thief was the reverend; how is it that money can makes someone so holly, corrupt enough to make a sin? Voltaire uses irony here to show the pessimistic view of greed overcoming a holly person’s wholesomeness.

Voltaire satirized philosophical optimism. He used exaggerations and berated all the petty inhumanities of society. This is illustrated in the scene where Cunegonde was ready to marry a man for money, not on love.

“‘Madam, you have seventy-two years of nobility, but not one penny. You now have the chance to become the wife of a man who’s the greatest lord in South America and has a very handsome mustache.” (Pg. 51)

As Cunegonde ponders whether or not to marry a man for money, she provide support for Voltaire’s overall theme of pessimism.

Candide and Cacambo traveled to Eldorado, and found it to be the best place ever. “If our friend Pangloss had seen Eldorado, he wouldn’t have said that the castle of Thunder-ten-tronckh was the finest thing on earth.” (Pg. 68) Leaving a perfect place, such as Eldorado, where they could be seen as equals, and extremely pleased, seems insane. However, Candide and Cacambo found money more important. They left to live in a corrupt world, filled with riches and wealth. “[If we return to our world] we’ll be richer than all the kings of Europe put together.” (Pg. 70) This just goes to show that humanity see more, and better of money than happiness, and riches in contentment.

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