Oedipus was a king that was torn between free will and the destiny of the gods. Even though fate seemed to control Oedipus’ life, he did still have a free will. The story was based on whether free will or fates were influencing the characters’ lives. Both fate and free will went throughout the play but only free will, brought Laius, Jocasta and Oedipus to their downfalls. Their behaviors decided their future. If someone can have a destiny, they can have the free will to change it. In my opinion, I think that fate does exist but you can still make your own decisions.
I believe that the people who lived in Ancient Greek felt that their lives were controlled by the gods. They believed everything that they hear the gods say will come true. People can be as free as the gods who influence them. If the gods are free, then people are also free. Jocasta and Laius were perfect examples of freewill. It was their choices that led them to their terrible destinies. Their actions showed that it was freewill that created their destiny. As Oedipus’ parents believed their fate, they tried every free will they had to stop their fate from happening.
Since they believed fate defines something that will happen, they felt like the only way stop their fate from happening is to send Oedipus to get killed. If Oracles would have never told King Laius about the prophecy of Oedipus killing him he wouldn’t have sent his servant to kill him and Oedipus would have known who his real parents were and would of never killed his father or slept with his mother. After Jocasta discovered she married and had children with her son, she made the choice to kill herself. No one forced her to do it; it was her choice.
Only someone is safe from their fate when they are either completely aware of it, or completely blind of it. When Oedipus learns his fate of killing his father, he immediately tries to prevent it and ran away from who he thought was his parents. He freaked out and his choices are what brought his prophecy to life. Oedipus’ prophecy happened not because he was influenced by anybody or because of what the Gods said, but because of his own decisions he made. If he was aware of the truth, he could have actually avoided the tragedy.
If he was also a wise man he could have made good decisions in his life but he was ignorant and his stubbornness didn’t make him so fortunate. Oedipus had the yearning for the truth about his own existence and it led him to his downfall. He unsuccessfully tried to change his fate and doing so was his biggest mistake. By trying to avoid what was told to him and leaving Corinth to keep who he thought were his biological parent’s safe, he made his own fate come true. Had he not listened, not believed in “fate”, he would have never made any of that come true.
He could have avoided killing his father but his bad attitude caused him to have such a terrible decision. His poor reaction to the man pushing him aside at the crossroads caused him to kill the caravan and the king of Thebes, which was also his biological father. “The one shouldering me aside, the driver, I strike him in anger! ” Oedipus was suborned and didn’t like getting tossed out the way and flipped out, killing his father and all of the people. In ancient times normally when a caravan was coming down the road they usually pushed you to the side.
It was fate that made Oedipus kills his father, but it was his free will that made him kill Laius that day, in that way. It was his attitude that caused this to happen. If he were a wise and at ease man, then his decision could have been different and his prophecy that said he would kill his father could have been avoided. It was his free will because it was Oedipus’ choice to travel to Thebes in the first place. This is ironically because instead of trying to avoid this fate, he actually fulfilled the prophecy by getting closer to his actual parents.
Jocasta tries to tell Oedipus that fate should not determine their lives and he should not fear what is said to happen. She wanted him to stop looking for the truth, “Stop in the name of god, if you love your own life, call off this search! My suffering is enough. Listen to me” (Line 1603-1605). Fate was fulfilled when everyone had found out the entire prophecy has become true. When, Jocasta thought she killed her son, she thought he could not possibly have killed her husband and that the prophesy must be false.
She didn’t know she married her son because she thought her son was dead since she sent for him to get killed. When she found out she did in fact not only married her son, but had kids with him she hung herself, the truth became too unbearable for her and she kills herself because of her guilt. Oedipus wished to end the mystery of the death of King Laios as quickly as he can. People in town began to suffer because of evil in the land from Oedipus. He decides to investigate what it could be, which is ironic because he was the criminal.
He was inpatient to find evidence about the death of Laios. He was also quick to accuse Teiresias to be bad, especially since Teiresias predicted the truth of the murder. This is also ironic because Teiresias is physically blind, and he is able to see the truth, while Oedipus, who can physically see, is completely blind to the truth. Oedipus tells Creon that he curses the killer of Laios, “Now my curse on the murderer, Whoever he is a lone man unknown in his crime or one among many, let that man drag out his life in agony, step by painful step. ” (Lines 280-283).
This is also a double meaning because he curses the murderer of Laios, when in reality he is actually the murderer. When Oedipus finds out the truth he gouges out his eyes when he realized that his effort to fight and avoid fate has caused such a tragedy. When he realized that he done such a terrible thing he told himself “You, you’ll see no more pain I suffered, all the pain I caused! Too long you looked on the ones you never should have seen; blind to the ones you longed to see, to know! Blind from this hour on! Blind in the darkness, blind! ” (Lines 1402-1411).
Him trying to avoid his fate, he is instead fulfilled the prophecy. By the end of the play, he realizes that it’s very hard to try and prevent his fate, no matter what he does. What’s mocking is Oedipus is both the savior and a curse. He saves Thebes when he solves the riddle of the Sphinx, which was cursed because of his choices. While reading the book I questioned were Oedipus, Jocasta and Laius really a puppet of the gods or master of their own fates? I realized that they believed that fate is real but it was all their decisions that lead them to their downfalls.
Even though they all believed that they can’t escape their destiny, it was their responsibilities for fulfilling it. Oedipus began the tale as a king, and ended the story as a blind beggar. “What good were eyes to me? Nothing I could see could bring me joy. ” (Lines 1473-74). By the end of the play Oedipus admitted to himself and the people of Thebes that it was his dreadful choices that lead to his horrifying outcome. “Now loathed by the gods, son of the mother I defiled coupling in my father’s bed, spawning lives in the loins that spawned my wretched life. What grief can crown this grief?
It’s mine alone, my destiny-I am Oedipus! ” Oedipus was searching for the truth, even when everyone was warning him to stop. He still did everything in his power to find out the truth. When he refused to listen and continued to find the truth, he shows that he does have some sense of free will. Then again since he tried so hard to stop his fate from happening he caused it to come true. He believed in his mind thought that he was not responsible, not to blame, and he had no free will. “I’d have never come to this, my father’s murderer–never been branded mother’s husband, all men see me now!
Now, loathed by the gods, son of the mother I defiled coupling in my father’s bed, spawning lives in the loins that spawned my wretched life. What grief can crown this grief? It’s mine alone, my destiny–I am Oedipus! ” (Lines 1492- 1497) Oedipus thought he did nothing wrong, and it is his fate to suffer. Although he was a victim of fate, he was not controlled by it. In conclusion, Oedipus uses free will to make his own decisions. Works Cited Sophocles. The Three Theban Plays-Oedipus the King. Translated by Robert Fagles. Penguin Books. Copyright by Robert Fagles, 1982,1984. Print