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HowFate and Free Will shapes Oedipus’ Character
Oedipus Rex by Sophocles reveals how Oedipus ignores fate andfollows free will to make the important decisions. In this case,Oedipus derives his motivation from the accomplishments that he makesin the past. For instance, he delivers Thebes from the Sphinx’sevil reign, and that strengthened his social position in the region.In fact, the people had the trust that he will save them from theplague that had attacked the city. Clearly, the circumstances shapedhis self-determination and the belief that he was brave. However, thesame self-confidence blinds him from acknowledging Tiresias’sprophecy, and he decides to act on free will. He fails to understandthat the misinformed decisions led to his people suffering more.Later, fate catches up with him, and he has to accept the banishmentand find another land so as to end the plague in Thebes. This essaywill reveal how Oedipus’s character forces him to make decisionsbased on free will and ignores fate that later catches up with him.
Oedipus, who was the national leader, wasrecognized all over and people expected him to find a solution to theplague that affected the city. The fact that the people respect himand they wanted to find a solution clearly motivates Oedipus. Infact, his social position showed that he should be the one thatprovides the solutions to any problems that the nation was facing atthat time. As a firm and popular ruler, he had to seek the solutionsand find ways of ending the plague in the city. The fact that he hasthe prophets also gives him the courage to address the problem thatthe people are facing. For instance, the beliefs of the region showthat the priest or even a prophet can identify the cause of theplague. He also believes that he might even consult the gods thatwill reveal the source of the plague that is affecting the city. Hispersonality of openness also motivates him in handling the scenariosince he assures his people that he will tackle the issue openly. Thefact that he had saved the people from the Sphinx’s evil reign wasalso a clear motivation in the way that he wanted to save them fromthe plague. Even the temple priest revealed that “you freedus from the Sphinx, you came to Thebes and cut us loose from thebloody tribute we had paid that harsh, brutal singer.  We taughtyou nothing, no skill, no extra knowledge, still you triumphed”(Sophocles, 44-47). The scenario shows that his intelligencemotivated him in solving problems and his bravery in facing anychallenge. All in all, Oedipus is an important in ensuring that heleads the people based on his utmost intelligence.
The motivation has pushed Oedipus to be a self-determined person thatbelieves his intelligence and bravery. He believes that he can doeverything since he is a leader that has earned the respect of hispeople. In most cases, such a step is often important in rulingpeople since he becomes the sole decision maker. He has great insightinto various issues and takes swift action on various issues toprovide the required guidance. Even when the city is attacked by theplague, he believes that he will solve the issue without anydifficulties. He still acknowledges the role of the gods in hissuccess and wants them to bless the land. In fact, he reveals that"you pray to the gods? Let me grant your prayers"(Sophocles, 245). The statement also urges the people to support himin his tenure as the king. The belief that he was chosen to lead thepeople by the gods also makes him proud and arrogant since he hadsaved Thebes from the Sphinx curse. The statement “here I ammyself— / you all know me, the world knows my fame: / I am Oedipus”(Sophocles, 7–9) reveals how he holds his name with pride. Later,the same pride also leads to his downfall as his name becomes a curseto the Thebes people that had trusted him with the decision of rulingand making important decisions. His confidence rises to a level whereit is simply an illusion that blinds him from the reality that he hasto solve the problems logically. Instead, he ignores the facts andonly relies on his beliefs and blinded line of thought to determinewhat the real cause of the problems is. To some extent, themotivation pushes him into being self-confident but, in a dangerousway instead.
Oedipus’ character also influences the theme of free will and fatein the play. For instance, Oedipus has the pride and theself-confidence that the people trust him and he will rule themefficiently. The pride blinds him from analyzing the facts and theprophecy to determine his future as the ruler of the Thebes people.More specifically, Oedipus decides to act based on free will byignoring fate since he believes that he is not the cause of theplague. Instead, he believes that he will find Laius’ killers andend the plague that had been affecting the Thebes people. In fact,the Tiresias prophesies in the play shows that the Thebes peopleshould capture someone that is a father and a brother to hischildren. At that moment, Oedipus tells Jocasta of the time that hewas told he would kill his father and brother and later sleep withhis mother. Jocasta also says that Laius was given a similar prophecywhere he was told about his sons killing him. Even with the evidenceat their disposal, the two chose to ignore the prophecy and decidedto act based on their pride and selfishness. The two even underminethe truth of the prophecies since they had failed in the past. Theyuse their assumptions to justify their actions since they believethat they will have to rule the Thebes people. Clearly, he ignoresthe gods and prophets and acts on his free will rather than seekingthe appropriate way of handling the particular issue.
Tiresias reveals the fate that Oedipus was supposed to follow sincehis childhood. In fact, the revelation that he killed his father andbrother and even slept with his mother angers him and he does notbelieve the prophecy. He opposes fate by insulting Tiresias andrevealing that “you helped hatch the plot, you did the work, yes,short of killing him with your own hands . . .” (Sophocles,394-96). The scenario shows that he decides to act based on freewill rather than considering his fate. Instead, he decides to remainas the ruler of the Thebes people rather than seeking exile andmoving to another land. Oedipus even blames Creon of treason andconspiring against his rule. For instance, he says that “I see itall, the marauding thief himself scheming to steal my crown andpower!” (Sophocles, 597-98). In reality, Oedipus is simply placingthe burden onto other people so that he might shift the blame fromhimself. He wants to ignore the damaging evidence that surrounds himand accuse others of the mistakes that led to the plague. In the end,he fails to ignore his fate since the truth is known and he seeksexile from the land.
In conclusion, Oedipus follows his free willand ignores his fate since he believes that the Thebes people trusthim and they want him to lead the land. Clearly, his personality thatshows bravery and intelligence proves that he is the best person tolead the land after he had saved Thebes from Sphinx’s curse.However, the trust and bravery get into his head, and he even ignoresTiresias’s prophecy. He ignores the request to head into exilesince he is the one that killed Laius. His stay in the land alsointensifies the plague, and he accuses the prophet of killing Lauisbut, nothing changes. He ignores fate since the prophecy made showsthat he will kill his father, brother and sleep with his mother.Together with his wife, they undermine such evidence and believe thatthey still have a chance of ruling Thebes. They disregard the prophetand the gods and the same act also leads to their failure as fatecatches up with them. In this case, Sophocles is proving thestrength of the gods in controlling someone’s fate instead. EvenOedipus had to respect the gods and the prophets but, he decided todo otherwise. In the end, he had to deal with the consequences thatled to his banishment as well.
Sophocles. Oedipus the King and Other Tragedies: Oedipus the King,Aias, Philoctetes, Oedipus at Colonus. Oxford University Press,2016.