Compare and contrast the reaction of Oedipus to the oracle and that of Macbeth to the witches prophesies. Consider the role of their wives and the final outcome of each protagonist and his wife.

Essay by Valor9University, Bachelor'sA+, March 2005

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The role of fate is often very great in tragedies, especially Greek tragedies. Usually, if one, the protagonist, is adherent to his/her own fate it could determine the course of action throughout the entire piece of literature. In Macbeth, one of Shakespeare's famous tragedies, as well as, Sophocles's Greek tragedy, Oedipus the King, the protagonists react in similar ways to prophesies told to them one by an oracle, and the other by three witches. It is however, not solely due to the actions of the protagonists, but it is the very important role of the wives that each of their fate comes to pass. Each story revolves around the attempts of the protagonists trying to change their fate.

In Sophocles's Oedipus the King, the protagonist Oedipus's reaction to the oracle Tiresias was one of praise at first. Oedipus voices a positive and idealistic vision of the oracle referring him to something celestial (300-319).

When Tiresias tells Oedipus of what he had done (the killing of Lauis) his mood turns to one of anger. He becomes nasty, and accuses the oracle of terrible deeds. Oedipus says, " You scum of the earth" (334-349).

Earlier in the play, when Oedipus hears his destiny from Apollo he leaves his place of resignation, Corinth (which he believes is his true home) to change the fate that he will kill his father. Only in doing so, Oedipus finds his real parents and carries out the oracles words.

Jocasta, Oedipus's wife and mother, tells him that oracles are powerless, however she still gives praise to the gods (245-50). Oedipus rejoices over Polybus's death as a sign that oracles are fallible (52). His wife Jocasta, becomes very excited over the news, because it proves that Oedipus has beaten the prophecy. She says "you...