If everything is determined beforehand, and no human effort can change the course of life, then what point is there in watching — or writing — a tragedy? According to Aristotle, theater offers its audience the experience of pity and terror produced by the story of the hero brought low by a power greater than himself. In consequence, this catharsis — a purging of high emotion — brings the spectator closer to a sympathetic understanding of life in all its complexity. As the chorus at the conclusion of Antigone attests, the blows of Fate can gain us wisdom.
In Greek tragedy, the concept of character — the portrayal of those assailed by the blows of Fate — differs specifically from modern expectations. Audiences today expect character exploration and development as an essential part of a play or a film.
But Aristotle declared that there could be tragedy without character — although not without action. The masks worn by actors in Greek drama give evidence of this distinction. In Oedipus the King , the actor playing Oedipus wore a mask showing him simply as a king, while in Oedipus at Colonus , Oedipus appears in the mask of an old man.
As Sophocles saw him — and as actors portrayed him — Oedipus displayed no personality or individuality beyond his role in the legend. The point of the drama, then, was not to uncover Oedipus' personal motivations but to describe the arc of his fall, so as to witness the power of Fate.
In his plays, Shakespeare also created tragedy that revolved around a heroic character who falls from greatness. But Shakespeare's heroes appear fully characterized and their tragedies develop as much from their own conscious intentions as from Fate. Macbeth, for example, pursues his goal of the throne ruthlessly, with murderous ambition. When the witches' prophecies, upon which he has based his hopes, turn out to be just as misleading as any oracle's pronouncement at Delphi, the audience is more likely to blame Macbeth for his heartless ambition than to bemoan his fate with him.
In contrast, Sophocles' hero — even with his tragic flaw as Aristotle terms it — maintains the audience's sympathy throughout the drama. The flaw of his character represents less a vicious fault and more a vulnerability, or a blind spot. Oedipus' brilliance, then, is matched by his overconfidence and rashness — a habit of mind that makes him prey to the very fate he wishes to avoid. Significantly, Oedipus' desperate attempt to escape Fate arises not from ambition or pride, but from an understandable and pious desire to live without committing heinous offenses.
Prudently, he decides never to return to the kingdom where the people he believes to be his parents rule. But when an overbearing man on the road nearly runs him down and then cuffs him savagely, Oedipus rashly kills his attacker, who turns out be his father.
So, just as he thinks himself free of his fate, Oedipus runs right into it — literally, at a crossroads. In Oedipus the King , Oedipus displays his characteristic brilliance and overconfidence in what he regards as his heroic search for the murderer of Laius. He pursues the mystery relentlessly, confident that its solution will yield him the same glory he enjoyed when he answered the riddle of the Sphinx. Oedipus' self-assurance that he has taken care of his fate blinds him to it and begins the fall that will end in his literal blindness.
Thus he becomes the victim — rather than the conquerer — of Fate. In Antigone , Creon also displays a blind spot. Wrapped up in the trappings of power, Creon puts his responsibility for Thebes above the laws of the gods and has to be reminded of the gods' will by Tiresias.
Creon's last-minute attempt to conform to the gods' wishes only reveals to him his own inescapable fate — the destruction of his family and the end of his rule. Antigone herself is painfully aware of the power of Fate, attributing all the tragedy in her family to the will of Zeus.
When she acts decisively, choosing to obey the laws of the gods rather than the laws of the state, she seems almost like a modern heroine — a model of individual courage and responsibility. 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 so of his own will. From the beginning of this tragedy, Oedipus took many actions leading to his own downfall. Oedipus could have waited for the plague to end, but out of compassion for his suffering people, he had Creon go to Delphi. If with my knowledge he lives at my hearth, I pray that I myself may feel my curse.
His pride, ingnorance, insolence and disbelief in the gods, and unrelenting quest for the truth ultimately contributed to his destuction. When Oedipus was told after threatening Teiresias , that he was responsible for the murder of Laius, he became enraged and calls the old oracle a liar.
He ran away from his home, Corinth, in hopes of outsmarting the gods divine will. Like his father, Oedipus also sought ways to escape the horrible destiny told by the oracle of Apollo.
When such things are done, what man shall contrive to shield his soul from the shafts of the God? Teiresias, Jocasta and the herdsman tried to stop him from pursuing the truth.
Take for example a part of the last conversation between Jocasta and Oedipus.
The Victim of Fate in Oedipus Rex The question has been raised as to whether Oedipus was a victim of fate or of his own actions. This essay will show that Oedipus was a victim of fate, but he was no puppet because he freely and actively sought his doom, although he was warned many times of the inevitable repercussions of his actions.
This essay will show that Oedipus was a victim of fate, but he was no puppet because he freely and actively sought his doom, although he was warned many times of the inevitable repercussions of his .
To conclude, whilst some may argue that Oedipus deserved his fate at the end of the play; in my opinion, Oedipus did not deserve this fate because he was helpless in preventing his inevitable fate. This is evident because whatever Oedipus did, good or bad, would have a disastrous effect. As tragic and terrible as the story of the Oedipus Trilogy is, then, Sophocles grants his audience the hope that the blows of Fate lead not only to wisdom, but to transcendence.
Free Essay: Sophocles’ Oedipus the King: Fate vs. Free Will In Oedipus the King, one of Sophocles’ most popular plays, Sophocles clearly depicts the Greek’s. The first instance-involving fate occurs when Oedipus sends Creon, Jocasta's brother, to the temple of Apollo, the god of prophecy and healing, to find the fate of Thebes and how to rid Thebes of the plague the people are suffering from.