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Oedipus the King


Oedipus the king is an Athen tragedy that is written by Sophocles. The myth of Oedipus takes place at the beginning of the play. The main character in the tragedy is the son of King Laius, and queen Jocasta. In the play, Laius learns from an oracle that he is doomed. After learning he is doomed, Laius instructs Jocasta to kill the infant. Oedipus in the play is influenced by fate, choice, and lack of free will in making decisions. The largest part of his life depends on choice as choice makes him perform various actions. For example, he plans how to marry, and kill Laius. He is also influenced by fate at some point, and also lack of free will. The essay shows how Oedipus life is influenced by fate, free will and choice

 Oedipus the king

The play Oedipus the king are several themes. That is the theme of fate and free will. Fate is a theme that is mostly found in Greek works mostly tragedy. The theme mostly occurs when the characters in the play try to avoid an oracle. It is common in many Greek myths. The theme is common in the Oedipus the king as it is evidenced in the myth of the birth of Perseus. In the play Oedipus the king, there are two oracles that dominate the plot of the play. First, an oracle is evidenced where Jocasta relates the prophecy told to Louis before the birth of Oedipus. This is evidenced in lines 711 to 714.The oracle state that it is Laius fate to die a victim at the hands of his own son. It further states that as the son is to be born by Laius, and his wife(Johnston 2007).

“The oracle told him that it was his fate that he should die a victim at the hands of his own son, a son to be born of Laius and me”.

 The oracle told to Louis conveys only a message about the pestricide. In the play it is clear that Oedipus is bound by fate as he reveals the prophecy that caused him to leave Corinth’s. Fate forces Oedipus to perform irrational act as revealed in the oracle. This is evidenced in page 791 to 793.In this passage Oedipus states that he was doomed to lye with his mother, and he was domed to murder his own father. This shows that Oedipus is bound by fate to act badly by murdering his father, and lying with his own mother(Johnston 2007).

 “That I was fated to lie with my mother, and show to daylight an accursed breed which men would not endure, and I was doomed to be murderer of the father that begot me”.

 The oracle presented by Louis is unconditional. This is because Laius is forced to do some actions in the play like killing his own son because he has no other opportunity. The repetition of Jocasta oracle at line 854-855 shows that Louis oracle was unconditional. In the play Louis declares that his son should kill the king. Also Jocasta uses the word chrênai in the play. The word means to be fated. The iteration of the word shows that the fate was unconditional, and it could not be avoided. The oracles influence Oedipus life and life of other characters as they are bound by fate (Johnston 2007).

 Oedipus does not have control of his own life. This is because he is controlled by external forces that make his life difficulty. He his controlled by fate, and god and they influence his life badly. This makes it difficulty for Oedipus to control his life as he has to rely on fate, and the god to survive. Most of the characters in the play do not have control of their own life, and they are influenced by other forces. The characters have no free will as the prophecy in the play set events that conclude with own fulfillment. The fulfillments of events in the play depend on the prophecies made by different people in the play. For example, Laius prophecy’s that his son will kill the king.

In addition, the characters are influenced by choice, and this enables them make proper decisions. For example, Oedipus in the play is influenced by choice to perform various actions (Johnston 2007). He makes a choice to kill his father, and marry his mother. Oedipus is also influenced by choice as he has chosen not to return to Corinth after hearing the oracle. Oedipus depends on choice to make his decisions on what is right, and what is not right. Choice also influences Oedipus as he chooses to go to Thebes so as to kill Laius, marry, and take Jocasta as his bride. Also Oedipus chooses to send Creon to the oracle to be advised. He also forces Creon to follow the advice given, and start investigations into Laius’s murder. The choices made by Oedipus are not predetermined as they are not planed in advance (Johnston 2007).


In conclusion the life of many characters in the play is influenced by fate, lack of free will, and choice. This is because most of the characters like Oedipus do not make their own decision, but their life is influenced by other external forces like fate, and gods. Oedipus depends on choice to make decisions in several activities like marrying, and killing Laius.


Johnston, Sophocles.Oedipus the King.RicherResourcesPublications,2007


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