Oedipus’ life was a series of tragedies from birth to the point of blindness. This tragedies can be assumed to stem out of the fact that Oedipus ’ was an individual with a strong character which made him want to know the truth and as a result the tragedies befall him out of free will.
However, Oedipus was already doomed to succumb to the fate which was foretold long before his birth via the oracle which was at Delphi. From the time the oracle predicts this to Oedipus’ parents Jocasta and Laios, they immediately take action to ensure that the oracle is not fulfilled. Little do they know that the fate of Oedipus’ will come to occur in their lives which would be a series of tragedies that blindly lead them to believe that the oracle would not be fulfilled.
From an initial reading, most readers assume that the tragedies that befall Oedipus and his family are mere actions of free will by both Oedipus, his parents and the shepherd but it is actually the fate that was already predicted by the oracle which leads to all the tragedies that Oedipus goes through in the entire play. The essay thus intends to show that it was due to fate that the tragedies befell Oedipus rather than free will as it appears.
Oedipus’ parents try to avoid the fate that the oracle predicts concerning Oedipus. They send the shepherd to get rid of the child by leaving the child in the jungle so that he might die due to exposure but instead the shepherd does not leave Oedipus to die, rather, he takes him to his home country and Oedipus is left under the care of the queen and king of Corinth.
“Come, then, say, on. Rememberest thou a boy Thou gav`st me once, that I might rear him up As mine own child?” (Sophocles 1168)This causes Oedipus to believe that the queen and king of Corinth are his real parents which causes him to flee from them to escape the fulfillment of the oracle but finally this belief acts a catalyst for the fulfillment of the oracle and Oedipus and his parents (Jocatsa) are forced to come to the realization that they could not control fate.
Fate also plays a tricky game on Oedipus when in his attempts to discover the person responsible for the death of Laios; he comes to know that it was actually him who killed his own father.
Oedipus met with his father and killed him believing that it was a group of bandits while in actual senses it was his father. His quest to discover what happened to the king Laios leads him to his predetermined fate, ‘Tis enough”.
Oedipus replies, I cannot yield my right to know the truth” Oedipus finds it difficult to restrain himself from looking for the truth even though he has already been warned that the truth might lead to disaster on his part. “Whom did he speak of? Care not thou for it, But wish his words may be but idle tales.” (Sophocles 1176).
Jocasta tries to steer away Oedipus from venturing into asking more questions because she had already deciphered the end of the story. Had he listened to what he was told instead of being stubborn then maybe the fate would not have been completely fulfilled.
It so happens that the priest who is currently in Apollo is blind and Oedipus mocks him by telling him that he can never be blind but fate has it that he would be the one responsible for gouging out his eyes leading to blindness. “Woe! woe! woe! woe! all cometh clear at last.
O light, may I ne`er look on thee again, Who now am seen owing my birth to those To whom I ought not, and with whom I ought not In wedlock living, whom I ought not slaying.” (Sophocles 1200).
At this point Oedipus prefers that he would rather be blind so that he would no longer look upon the evils of the world and those that he had already done. Fate had it therefore that he should become blind despite the fact that he had been mocking the priest
In Oedipus the king, Sophocles raises various questions about fate, should individuals be concerned in knowing their fate instead of living their lives freely or after knowing ones fate, which action is best to take. To ignore fate and live life, or to try as much as possible to control and evade fate.
Oedipus and his parents know their fate and try as much as possible to control this fate but all their actions lead them to the fulfillment of the oracle. Thus, it can be concluded that had Jocasta and Liaos lived their lives without seeking to know their fate then they would have lived happily and the same applies to Oedipus.
Sophocles. Oedipus the King. E.d Cavender, Kenneth. San Francisco: Chandler Pub. Co, 1961.