"Oedipus rex" by Sophocles.

Essay by kioulafasHigh School, 12th gradeA, August 2003

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"Oedipus rex demonstrates that people ultimately have little control over their own lives" Do you agree?

A common debate that still rages today is whether we as a species have free will or if some divine source, some call it fate, controls our destiny. To have control over something is to rule and be able manage it. The same debate applies to Oedipus the King. Oedipus is in control of his actions, but ultimately the gods predetermine his ill fate. Some believe man is free to choose and is ultimately held responsible for his own actions. Both the concept of fate and free will played an integral part in Oedipus' destruction. Although he was a victim of fate, he was not controlled by it. Oedipus was destined from birth to someday marry his mother and to murder his father. This prophecy, as warned by the oracle of Apollo at Delphi was unconditional and inevitably would come to pass, no matter what he may have done to avoid it.

His past actions were determined by fate, but what he did in Thebes, he did of his own will. The main themes are free will, fate and the role is birth parents played in determining his fate.

Before the play even starts, Oedipus makes the choice to leave his "parents" and move to Thebes. He then chooses, though ruled by anger, to kill an old man blocking his path, who later is discovered to be his real father, King Laius. Sure, it was fate that made Oedipus kill his father, but it was free will that made him kill Laius that day, in that way. Oedipus took many actions leading to his own downfall. He could have waited for the plague to end, but out of compassion for his suffering...