Updated September 10, 2022

Theme of Fate in Sophocles’ Oedipus Rex

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Theme of Fate in Sophocles’ Oedipus Rex essay
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Sophocles’s, Oedipus Rex, is a story of fate. Oedipus, the new king of Thebes, set out his brother-in-law Creon to find the cause of a mysterious death of the old king, Laius. Creon reports back to Oedipus stating that once the murderer is brought to justice, Thebes can go back to normal and everyone can go about their life. Teiresias, a wise man skilled in prophecy, claims Oedipus is the murderer. The events leading up to the cause of finding Laius’s death will reveal that no matter how much you try to run from your fate and do as you wish, what’s for you will be for you.

In all of Sophocles plays, he depicts that fate will control a man’s life no matter what he does base on free will. Oedipus lived his life fulfilling his prophecy, destined to kill his father and marry his mother. When the play starts, hastily, Oedipus tries to find the murderer of King Laius so he can satisfy the people of Thebes. Impassioned, he curses the murderer and in doing so he curses himself. “Upon the murderer, I invoke this curse- whether he is one man and all unknown, or one of many- may he wear out his life in misery or doom! If with my knowledge he lives at my hearth, I pray that I myself may feel my curse.”

Oedipus’s desire to find the truth in Teiresias’s prophecy led him to the tragic ending. Jocasta tries to stop Oedipus from continuing the search but he was determined. Tracing his memory and realizing the truth of why he ended up in Thebes, Oedipus states “…it was my fate to defile my mother’s bed, to bring forth to men a human family that people could not bear to look upon, to murder the father who endangered me.” Apollo told him of this prophecy and he ran away from Corinth trying to escape his fate, Oedipus ended up murdering someone along the way-the man he murdered ended up being his father.

After finding out his fate came true in the end despite him running away, Oedipus gouged his eyes out and Jocasta hangs herself. When asked by the Chorus why Oedipus blinded himself, he replies “It was Apollo, friends, Apollo, that brought this bitter bitterness, my sorrows to completion. But was the hand that struck me was none but my own.” Oedipus knowing his actions, took responsibility for them and exiled himself from Thebes. Although Oedipus took responsibility for his actions, it was all because of the fate that he ended up where he was. In the end, Sophocles proved that your fate will catch up to you no matter how much you try to avoid it.

Although Oedipus was a casualty of fate, he was not controlled by it. Oedipus was destined from birth to murder his father and wed his mother. This prophecy was unconditional and inevitably would come to pass, no matter what Oedipus may have done to avoid it. His past actions were determined by fate. Trying to bring himself up to the level of gods by avoiding it, his fate caught up with him in the end anyway.

Theme of Fate in Sophocles’ Oedipus Rex essay

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Theme of Fate in Sophocles’ Oedipus Rex. (2021, Mar 11). Retrieved from https://samploon.com/theme-of-fate-in-sophocles-oedipus-rex/


What are examples of fate in Oedipus Rex?
It is the responsibility of man to take ownership of his destiny which separates the human condition for that of other earthly beasts. From birth, Oedipus, the tragic hero of Sophocles' Greek Tragedy Oedipus Rex, is destined to kill his father and marry his mother .
What does Sophocles say about fate in Oedipus?
However, at the beginning he doesn't want to tell the truth, “ Let me go home. Bear your own fate and I'll bear mine. It is better so: trust what I say ” ( Sophocles 1263). Oedipus is furious that someone confronts him.
What is the message of the play what is Sophocles trying to tell us about fate?
Fate versus free will is the central theme of the play. The story revolves around Oedipus' attempt to use his own free will to escape the prophecy given to him by the Oracle of Delphi. The oracle prophesied that Oedipus' fate was to marry his mother and kill his father.
which theme does teiresias’ prophecy reveal?
Which theme does Teiresias' prophecy reveal? Divine authority holds the ultimate power .
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