The Unavoidable Fate Of Oedipus The King

Essay by PaperNerd ContributorHigh School, 10th grade April 2001

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In Sophocles' Oedipus the King, fate plays a blatant role in the downfall of Oedipus. Fate demonstrates time and time again in the play that it is unavoidable and will always overrule any attempt to change one's destiny. Knowing Oedipus' fate also proves to be more of a hindrance than a blessing since he wasn't able to alter what was in store for him regardless of the extreme measures that were taken to escape his ill fortune. The gods are relentless to these attempts and only grow angrier and vengeful when Jocasta, Oedipus' mother, at first denies that the prophecy created by the gods for Oedipus to kill his father and marry his mother had indeed come true and then tries to keep it from being found out. Sophocles makes it clear to the audience that fate takes precedence over one's life and how it is played out, and that trying to mess with it will only anger the gods and make things more troublesome.

Some, even before his birth, knew the unfortunate destiny of Oedipus and his family, but despite knowing this and taking extreme actions to evade it, fate as always won out in the end. Oedipus' life began rather harshly for an innocent baby. His parents, King Laius and Queen Jocasta, learning from an oracle that their son would someday kill his father and marry his mother, attempt to change this decree by binding Oedipus' ankles and giving him to a Shepard for him to leave on a mountaintop to die. The Shepard unable to bring himself to do this gives Oedipus to a Shepard from Corinth, who then gives Oedipus to his king, Polybus, to raise as his own son. Thus, despite King Laius' and Jocasta's effort to kill Oedipus before he...