Fate and freewill is a conflict that has been under discussion for many years, and is still relevant today. Through Oedipus’ pursuit of free will and curiosity, Sophocles challenges George Bernard Shaw’s life philosophy by showing that despite free will allowing one to choose their path in life, fate will ultimately prevail.
Throughout this play, Oedipus continuously “goes out and attempts to make his own circumstances”, following Shaw’s life philosophy, in order to not fall into his prophecy. Although he is told that he will murder his father and sleep with his mother, Oedipus believes he can avoid that and choose his life actions.
Therefore, he repeatedly shows his belief in free will by denying that his fate will come true. An example of Oedipus trying to create his own circumstances is when he is talking to Tiresias about his future and once he tells him he is the murderer of his father, he does not believe him since he “controls” what happens in his life and he knows he did not. “Oedipus: “What was it you said? I want to understand it clearly.’ Tiresias: ‘Didn’t you understand it the first time? Aren’t you just trying to trip me up?” Oedipus: ‘No, I did not grasp fully. Repeat your statement.” Tiresias: ‘I say that you are the murderer you are searching for.’
Oedipus: ‘Do you think you can say that twice and not pay for it?”” (Page 22) Sophocles is performing Shaw’s philosophy through Oedipus in this scene by having Oedipus talk to Tiresias in order to find out the truth of his life. And since he is told he is the killer of his father, he does not believe in his fate, but rather thinks he can avoid this by making his own choices. This is an example of Oedipus making one of many choices throughout the play, however in the end Shaw’s philosophy is challenged because fate becomes overpowering, making all of his decisions throughout his life a winding route to his destiny.
Sophocles also demonstrates Oedipus’ curiosity throughout the novel. For example, Oedipus shows an interest in his actual life and he is persistent to learn about his prophecy from Tiresias. Tiresias does not want to speak of anything with Oedipus, however he consistently badgers him until he finally tells him. “Oedipus: ‘If you know something, in God’s name, do not turn your back on us. Look. All of us here, on our knees, beseech you.’ Tiresias: ‘You are all ignorant. I will never reveal my dreadful secrets, or rather, yours.”” (Pages 19-20)
This shows his curiosity because he clearly wanted to know about his true life, and even when Tiresias stated he would not share any information, Oedipus was persistent and annoying towards him until he gave up his prophecy. This curiosity is yet another example of Oedipus “creating his own circumstances” just as George Bernard Shaw wrote, however Sophocles contradicts this idea by having the prophecy be fulfilled, proving that fate overpowers free-will, George Bernard Shaw states that everyone has the power of choice and the ability to do what they want with their lives. However, through Oedipus, Sophocles demonstrates that despite the route taken, every person has a set destiny/fate a birth which will always prevail.