The Role Of Fate In Sophocles Oedipus The King

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The questions regarding fate are ones that have been asked for centuries: does it exist; if so, do actions matter if people are headed toward a set endgame; and can fate be escaped. Ultimately, one wonders more about the journey towards the goal rather than the goal itself. These are topics frequently discussed in Sophocles’ timeless tale, Oedipus the King. It is the tragic story of Oedipus, king of Thebes, who learns the terrible truths about his destiny while trying to save his city from a plague. He often displays noble traits of courage, determination, and selflessness, if even haughtiness at times. Critics allude to Oedipus being a tragic hero; his inherent pride is what lead him to his eventual destruction. However, can one say this if …show more content…
The prophecy given to Oedipus declared that he would kill his father and wed his mother. This prophecy was eventually fulfilled, but pride led to neither of these occurrences, rather self-defense against an attack and the urgings of the city of Thebes to marry Jocasta. Other times in the play, he lashes out and jumps to conclusions when he feels threatened or accused, as seen with Tiresias the prophet, his brother-in-law Creon, and the farmer. The prime example of his arrogance getting the better of him occurs with Tiresias, after the latter accuses him of being the source of the plague. Oedipus responds with: “You, you scum of the earth, you’d enrage a heart of stone!... who could restrain his anger hearing you? What outrage- you spurn the city!” (Sophocles 178). However, even in this context, it is clear that his main concern in the argument is his city and protecting his people from the plague. Unlike other tragic heroes, whose main concern is securing their power and role as a leader, every decision he makes is made with his people at the forefront of his mind. Furthermore, arrogance and pride are very human traits, so one must consider if Oedipus is being punished for making a very human mistake. Ben Fisler furthers this argument when he explains: “But again, imperfection is not to be …show more content…
From the moment he is introduced, the reader can see why the Thebans wished him to be their ruler. He is considered a king amongst men in more ways than one, well known for his honesty, compassion, and courage. In the city’s most desperate time, he does not hide from the struggles his people are facing. This is best exemplified after he is told the news of the plague: “I grieve for these people, my people, far more than I fear for my own life” (Sophocles 163). Oedipus is never blind to the pain, and, more importantly, is willing to struggle and die with them. Moreover, his main objective in the story is to save the city from the plague, even if he himself has to pay the price of exile. Fisler agrees with this notion of Oedipus being a hero: “Oedipus is more than a great warrior and thinker, he is an ideal of social responsibility. Though he is entirely innocent of any intended wrongdoing, violating the laws of society and morality while deliberately trying to avoid breaking them, he sacrifices himself for the good of Thebes” (Fisler 2). Even after he learns of his role in all the death occurring in the city, he continues to do right by his people and leave the city. All of this makes Oedipus’ end all the more tragic because he was not in control of his own

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