The tragic story of Oedipus Rex is a very important piece of work that has continually puzzled, inspired and entertained audiences throughout the ages by touching then on many levels. The tragedy that Sophocles created remains alive today, because it is filled with human mistakes and immortal questions. It is the story of what appears to be a lucky prince who runs away from home to avoid the fulfillment of a terrible prophesy. Through amazing circumstances and with the use of his wits and at times arrogance, he becomes king of a foreign land and marries a beautiful queen. However, despite having everything, Oedipus cannot abandon his quest to find the truths about himself and the ailments of his new land. Though he is recommended against this quest, Oedipus, who fears nothing, perseveres, only to find that he has murdered his father and married his own mother. This knowledge and the unlucky events that follow cause Oedipus to strike his own eyes for he cannot bear to see what has become of his life and family. The role that Oedipus’ free will plays in his destruction and terrible fate has been debated by scholars for centuries. Oedipus gives his opinion on the matter when he explains,
Apollo. Apollo. Dear
Children, the god was Apollo.
He brought my sick, sick fate upon me.
But the blinding hand was my own,
... who tried to avoid the fulfillment of a prophecy of Apollo, Oedipus believes he had succeeded and casts scorn on all the ... voice of destiny in the play is the oracle of Apollo and Oedipus, to some extent, is the innocent victim of a ... priests at Delphi, Apollo told Laius that he would be killed by his own son, and later told Oedipus that he would ...
as he finally takes responsibility for his actions and their effect on his ultimate fate (Exodos, Strophe 2:110-113).
The quote above is a key part of the story because it reflects upon a very big question present throughout the entire play: was it fate that caused his undoing or were his actions responsible? The initial lines are very repetitious, emphasizing that it was the gods who chose that those terrible events would occur. Perhaps this is Oedipus’ last attempt to find an excuse and convince himself that he was not to blame. The thought of what he has caused is too unbearable, and he emphasizes his disgust by continuously referring to his “sick” wretched fate. However, the final line is concise and to the point, and there is no doubt that Oedipus names himself fully responsible for allowing these evil things to occur.
The mention of “the blinding hand” refers to more than just Oedipus’ physical blindness. Though he strikes his eyes in the end, it is precisely then that Oedipus can see the clearest. Earlier and throughout the entire play, Oedipus is truly blind because he is completely unaware of what he has done, and refuses to listen to all the people who warn him to stop searching for the murderer of the previous king. The quote is a metaphor for Oedipus’ ignorance throughout the play. His wife Iokaste asks him, “Listen to me, I beg you: do not do this thing,” and goes on to explain it’s for his own good, but Oedipus is too proud and states that he won’t listen for “the truth must be made known” (Scene 3:144-145).
He gives similar answers to all those who tell him that the truth will bring him misery, including Apollo’s prophet Tiresias, believing that there’s nothing that can harm him. He bases his judgment on the external appearance of things instead of thinking cautiously about what’s happening. As explained in The Bedford Introduction to Drama, “Sophocles develops the drama in terms of irony – the disjunction between what seems to be true and what is true,” and causes Oedipus to cease to be blind only in the end because now he must “look inward for the truth, without the distractions of surface experiences” given the loss of his eyes (Pg. 71).
Oedipus chooses to blind himself and not listen to counsel, thus showing that “the blinding hand was [his] own.”
In Oedipus the King, one of Sophocles' most popular plays, Sophocles clearly depicts the Greek's popular belief that fate will control a man's life despite of man's free will. Man was free to choose and was ultimately held responsible for his own actions. Throughout Oedipus the King, the concept of fate and free will plays an integral part in Oedipus' destruction. Destined to marry his mother and ...
Oedipus was stubborn, but it is easy to forget that he had made a promise to his people to find Laius’ murderer and free his land of the plague. Whether it was his own arrogance that wouldn’t allow him to fail, or his true concern for the Theban citizens, he was doing what he thought was right and consequently being a good king to his people. Should he have left them to suffer to avoid his own fate? It was certainly an option, but was there ever any hope for him? The gods had clearly set a course for him to follow. However, free will played a part every time Oedipus decided from one of the choices presented by the gods. The powerful immortals did not force his decisions, but knowing the character’s flaws and virtues, they successfully led him to his fate.
In the story, Oedipus had plenty of moments that could have altered his fate, but he chose the journey that unknowingly led him to the fulfillment of the prophesy he was avoiding. Oedipus could have stayed at Corinth, living as a happy prince and future king, but he had to know if he was adopted. He chose to go to the Oracle, and once there learned of the terrible fate that awaited him. He could have stayed home knowing that his heart would never allow him to hurt his parents, but he chose to leave and traveled far away. When he met Laius, he could have walked away instead of fighting and killing him, but he made the choice that led to the death of his true father, the King of Thebes. He then chose to solve the riddle of the Sphinx, and later accepted the prize and married the Queen, fulfilling the Oracle’s prophesy. Even then, Oedipus had choices. He could have remained in the darkness and neither he nor anyone else would have ever known what he had done. However, he chose to find the truth no matter the cost, thus ruining his life and his family forever. The irony is present in every one of Oedipus’ decisions, because the more he thought he could escape his destiny, the closer he came to it.
By using his free will to make all the wrong choices Oedipus led himself to the fate pre-decided by the gods. Therefore, he is as responsible for his misery as the gods themselves. He thought he had beat the prophesy by running away, and that he had found good fortune, but he became overconfident and lost everything. This reminds the audience of how fragile happiness is, and suggests that man must remain humble and should not assume “good fortune until he find/ Life, at his death, a memory without pain” (Exodus, Antistrophe 2:301-302).
Imagine being a hero, and your destiny is to kill your father and marry your mother. This is Oedipus’s fate. When he was still a baby, his parents heard of the prophecy they had a shepherd take Oedipus to Kithairon to die. There the shepherd gave the baby to another shepherd from Corinth, where Oedipus was given to the king and queen. In Oedipus Rex by Sophocles, Oedipus proves himself to be a ...
If Oedipus had been more modest instead of assuming he was smarter than the gods, perhaps he would have second-guessed his choices and maybe he could have avoided these horrible events. His decisions, however, cost him everything, and in the end, despite all the luck he had once possessed, all he was allowed to keep were his terrifying memories, his guilt and his sadness for the rest of his days on Earth.