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Home » , » Fate and Character conspire to bring about tragedy in King Oedipus.Discuss.
Oedipus Rex is a world -class masterpiece of Sophocles, who is thought of as the most classic of the three great Greek tragedians of which the other two were Aeschylus and Euripides. Written in 425 B.C the drama is a story of a ruler brought down by his own oath, unknowingly in conflict with himself. All heroes and heroine of Sophocles are longer than life, so that they portray human condition in panoramic and vivid fashion. Oedipus is no exception. In the play Oedipus obstacles searches for truth, defies fate and ultimately meets his downfall.The play is a proof of timeless greatness of Greek tragedy.
fate and character conspire to tragedy

The drama Oedipus Rex consists of two tragic events in the life of the protagonist happening at the interval of fifteen years. The first tragic incident was patricide and the incestuous relationship with his mother and the second one was the hideous revelation of the very fact.If the fact of Oedipus's parricide and incest had not been revealed, it would not have been so much tragic for him. In that case, he could have passed whole of his life in blissful ignorance. But, when the fact was revealed after fifteen years, it was so tragic for him as to persuade him to penitently blind himself.

Oedipus killed his father and married his mother. Though it was foretold by an oracle, we cannot blame only fate for this incident. Nor can we hold Oedipus solely responsible. An in-depth analysis of the play clearly shows that both fate and his character have conspired to bring about the tragic end of him. As to apportioning their responsibility and influence it must rest with the reaction of the individual reader and the individual viewer of the play.

In this great tragedy we see the over-presence of outrageous fortune at many points ; we see Oedipus, at last in part, is victim of Fate.With a view to escaping hi fate he fled from Corinth and thus from his supposed parents King polybus and Queen Merope after he had consulted Apollo's oracle at Delphi for positive confirmation about his parentage. Appalled and anxious at all costs to avoid his terrible fortune Oedipus had tried his best but could not be successful. This incident seems to teach us the lesson that man is only the plaything of Fate.Even in the second tragic event of his life, the revelation of the hideous and horrifying truth, Fate has its powerful influence. If the plague had not broken out in the city of Thebes, Oedipus would not have tried to find out the dark truth. He might have been blissfully ignorant.

Another matter we observe is that all Oedipus's good activities and qualities had been treated otherwise. His love for his subjects, his sense of responsibility, his relentless search for the killer of Laius and his own parentage, his total fearlessness - all contributed to filling his cup of misery to the brim. Every step he took, by his keen intelligence, took him one step nearer to his catastrophe.But, character was more remarkable than Fate. We see that all his actions were propelled by his physical and social environment, conscious, subconscious and unconscious urges, his genes and hormones, his overpowering pride, hid vaulting ambition excessive compassion, insane jealousy, tremendous self-confidence, and above all, by his inability to maintain balance and the sense of perspective.

If we go back fifteen years before, two questions may be raised. Warned by the oracle that he was destined to kill hi father and marry his mother Oedipus wanted to prove the oracle false and fled from his Corinth and his supposed parents. It was no doubt a very good move from his part.But, why then did not he take care never to kill an old man who could possibly be his father in respect of his years? And why did he not lead life -long bachelorship or at least desist marrying an older woman, old enough to have a son of his own age?Again, it was Oedipus who provoked Teiresias with his uncontrollable pride and helped make his revelations and the eventual revelations by jocasta. Moreover, his infinite curiosity involved him in the gravest misfortune.

From the context of the idea of free-will Oedipus is, to a considerable extent, responsible for his actions. Everyman acts upon his will. What we call fate is nothing but the sum total of all men's actions. In most cases, Oedipus acted freely ; but, he was blinded by his pride and haughtiness. He was inwardly blind even before he was physically blind. Ironically. he gains inward sight when his physically blinds himself. It was hid inward blindness that along with fate also led him towards his doom.

From another angle we can also assess Oedipus responsibility in bringing about his own downfall. It can rightly be said that Fate does not compel Oedipus to act in certain ways, but by its foresight it simply knows in advance the inevitable path that he will be following in his life as a result of his own character. In a sense, his character was his fate.

From the foregoing discussion it can be said that Oedipus is, to a great extent, responsible for his sufferings. However, Fate also played its inexorable part.Fate surrounded Oedipus like the tentacles of an octopus. Though whatever Oedipus does on the stage he does it as a free agent, yet certain of his actions were fate-bound that led him towards his final ruin. Both the character of Oedipus and Fate are responsible for the eventual sufferings in his life.Both character and fate contrived to bring about the tragedy in Oedipus's life. But, what is also remarkable is that both the good and bad qualities of Oedipus's character contributed almost equally bringing about his downfall.

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