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Themes of Fate and Destiny

Oedipus as a major victim of fate have tried to evade his fate when he realized that he was going to kill his father and sleep with his mother. His shocked and dreadful emotions made him run away from his parents to evade this fate, but he was actually walking right into his fate. It seems that Oedipus overheard this prophecy by accident but we may wonder that all this was planned by the gods so that Oedipus’s fate can carry on as planned. This later became a turning point that led the glorious and miserable life that follows Oedipus in his future.

Oedipus tried to evade his fate, but for him fate was not easily evaded. In his case fate seemed to be decided from the begging of his life, and from birth his leg was scared leaving three marks, which may foreshadow the choice he had to make at the cross road in future. Through this Sophocles is trying to show the idea that our destiny might not be controlled by ourselves and this shows how powerless humans are.

The Shepherd who was ordered by the king to kill Oedipus may seem to be an irrelevant person in the play, but he plays a key role that led to Oedipus’s final fate. He saves Oedipus and allowed the prophecy to happen. His sympathy caused Oedipus to curse him in the end when the shepherd reveals the truth about Oedipus, because if Oedipus died as a baby he wouldn’t be suffering and have an ending which seemed like a living hell for him. I think we can’t blame the shepherd for saving Oedipus. The truth about Oedipus was brought on by himself as he insisted to reveal the truth. This expresses a human behavior of wanting to know the truth that can be related to our daily life. If a friend has some secret which he/she didn’t want to share, we would be eager to ask them what it was about since we want to know the truth. The more they refuse to reveal the truth the more we want to know.

Oedipus from nature has an unyielding desire to uncover the truth about everything and in this case, he wanted to find the murder of King Laius and also want to uncover the secret mystery of his own birth. This desire then led him to realize what he has done. Many characters such as Tiresias and Jocasta in the play tried to stop Oedipus from revealing the truth, but Oedipus was driven by his fate to uncover everything. This could be seen when Jocasta urged Oedipus that “Stop-in the name of god, if you love your own life, call off this search! My suffering is enough.” [1] She begged Oedipus to leave the mystery unsolved, as at that point she might have realized what was really happening but she didn’t want Oedipus to suffer. But Oedipus’ reply, “Listen to you? No more. I must know it all, must see the truth at last.” [2] This was used by Sophocles to further illustrate the characteristics of Oedipus. His curiosity made him unable to stop pursuing the truth, which was the reason for him to solve the sphinx riddle, so even when his wife was pleading from him to stop, he still insisted on uncovering the mystery that seemed to be a riddle, which ends up to be his final riddle, the riddle of his own life.

The quote “A stranger you may think, who lives upon you, he soon will be revealed a native of Theban” [3] Foreshadows that the killer who seemed to a Stranger actually have a long bond with Thebes and at the time Oedipus didn’t realize that it was him who had long ties with Thebes. Again this is related with the theme of fate and destiny since this was said by the Tiresias who revealed the prophecy which eventually became true.

In the play the Prophet says that, “Blind who now has eyes, beggar who now is rich, he will grope his way towards a foreign soil, a sick tapping before his step by step.” [4] This foreshadows what will happen to Oedipus in the future. Oedipus does really take notice of what the prophet says because he was angry and believed that everything the prophet said was a conspiracy. What he doesn’t realize is that this is a significant prophecy the prophet made for him. As we see further in the play on how cruel he blinded himself and how he left Thebes. This relates to the theme of fate, since the prophet actually knows what will happen to Oedipus, which makes us wonder whether god really plans our destiny in advance.

In the play the quote, “He solved the famous riddle with his brilliance, he rose to power, a man beyond all power. Who could behold his greatness without envy? Now what a black sea of terror has overwhelmed him. [5] ” shows that although Oedipus is a smart and mighty king he could still not reverse his destiny and had to end up living in misery alone. This causes the reader to sympathize with him for why is life so unfair to him, that such a good man ends up with such an ending.

Then in the quote “Revealed at last, brother and father both to the children he embraces, to his mother son and husband both-he sowed the loins his father sowed, he spilled his father’s blood!” [6] Sophocles gave the reader a feeling of sorrow for both Oedipus and all the people related to him. Since everyone who is blood related to him will live in misery.

Oedipus, no matter what he may try to do to avoid his fate. All his actions were pulling him right back to his final destiny, although revealing the truth surrounding his birth was his wish, but also believed to be the plan of the gods. His curiosity and intelligence which brought him fame and glory have also brought his downfall. Oedipus was too eager to end the suffering of his people, thus sending Creon to bring the prophet that led to the tragedy.

I think that even when the prophet hinted that the killer was a stranger to the land and all this might be a plan of fate. It just encouraged him to be more eager to find the killer of King Laius instead of cooling himself done to think about it. If he did he might have realized what was happening. So it all seemed to happen as the fate guided and the gods were manipulating the minds of the man. And it seemed that the people are just chess pieces and are expendable when needed, thus they don’t have control over their fate.

This all started with a prophecy and the results of it was disastrous. So we ask ourselves are we supposed to know the will of god or should we be ignorant. If the old King of Thebes did not know of the prophecy then he would not have tried to kill Oedipus, then the family would have lived happily together, but due to the prophecy it turned into a disastrous event. This raises the question of whether the prophecies of gods there to help us or to cause problems for us? It is ironic how things could have turned out to be differently. It seems that it is not fair for Oedipus or anyone to have their final destiny decided, without giving them a chance to change it, and for Oedipus his fate was determined to end terribly even at the beginning of his life.

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