William Shakespeare's King Lear and Sophocles' Oedipus Rex are two classic pieces of literature that are worth studying. This essay will discuss how free will and destiny function in the two plays. First, the plays will be introduced and analyzed separately to provide a basis for contrast and comparison. Once the foundation is established, more advanced ideas will be discussed, such as the concept of evil and literal and figurative sight.
Oedipus Rex will be discussed first. The role of destiny is very obvious is this play. The plot is built around destiny; when Oedipus hears that his destiny is to murder his father and marry his mother, he sets out to confirm this prediction and then prevent it. In his attempt to avoid his fate, he unwittingly commits the very acts that were predicted. The actual logistics of the offense are quite impressive. Both Oedipus and his parents work independently of each other to avoid the outcome, and their actions tragically work together to make it possible.
The reader is slapped in the face with the core of the theme, which is that the fate of man is inevitable. Since Oedipus was fated to commit these crimes, he cannot do otherwise.
The role of fate and free will is much more complex in Shakespeare's King Lear. A quick perusal of the plot gives a story of good and evil characters exercising their own free wills. King Lear foolishly divides up his kingdom to his two deceitful, older daughters and ignores Cordelia, his honest, dutiful daughter. The older daughters have evil plans to overthrow their father. There is a similar subplot involving the Earl of Gloucester. His illegitimate son, Edmund, is jealous of Gloucester's legitimate son, Edgar. Edmund tricks Edgar into running away and fools Gloucester into believing Edgar...