Oedipus, the protagonist from Sophocles’ “Oedipus the King”, is a great example of the immense power that fate has within literature. Sophocles is very effective in portraying the wrath of fate as he shows how Oedipus is a victim of fate and, despite his endless efforts, was unable to avoid it. Fate managed to overcome Oedipus’s efforts to avoid falling victim to it. He is completely innocent of what happened to him. Oedipus was a good king and a man of honorable character and the circumstances he finds himself in is all caused by ill fate.
Oedipus had no control over what happened to him and was unknowingly born into this destiny which makes him a victim of fate. In Sophocles’ play, “Oedipus the King”, Oedipus was trapped in a chain of unfortunate events. When Oedipus was only a few days old, he was bound by the ankles and sent away from his parents to die on a mountain side all because an oracle gave him a bad fate. However, he was saved and taken to another city by the name of Corinth where Oedipus was adopted by the king and queen, Polybus and Merope.
Oedipus never learned of his fate until he was older and went to an oracle, Apollo, who told him “You are fated to couple with your mother, you will bring a breed of children into the light no man can bear to see- you will kill your father, the one who gave you life! ” (873-875). Once he learned of his fate he left Corinth and returned to his birth city, Thebes, where he becomes a victim of fate because of his bizarre circumstances and his inability to get away from the oracle. The fate given to Oedipus from birth dooms him from the start.
First, his birth parents, Lauis and Jocasta, fear the oracle and nail Oedipus’s feet together and leave him for dead on a mountain. The next time Oedipus’s fate is told, he “heard all that and ran. ” (876) He assumed it concerned Polybus and Merope, so he ran away from Corinth. Oedipus attempts to run from his destiny instead of just living out his life. This made Oedipus believe he had escaped his fate. However, Oedipus made it worse by running from it because he became closer to the actual issue.
Oedipus cannot escape the ruthless fate that follows him and inescapably his fate is fulfilled. Oedipus’s attempts to avoid his fate that predicted his life was just like fulfilling his fate. It was fate that led his father to find out the destiny of his son. It was also fate that made Laius and Jocasta to decide to kill Oedipus as a baby. Fate also was the reason the shepherd that was supposed to kill Oedipus ended up saving him. It was fate that made Oedipus leave Corinth, when he was trying to prevent himself from killing his father and marrying his mother.
Fate made him meet Laius on a narrow path and kill him because the two men would have never fought if they did not encounter on the road. It was fate that Oedipus solved the riddle of the Sphinx and became king of Thebes. Oedipus was also fated with hubris. He refused to move out of the way of Laius on the road because of his excessive pride. Oedipus’s pride stops him from being able to see the truth. Oedipus becomes blinded by his hubris and was unable to accept the fact that his fate was unavoidable.
If Oedipus did not have so much pride, he would have listened to his people and would have understood the truth in all his fate. In “Oedipus the King”, Sophocles makes it clear that Oedipus’s fate has been set since he was born making it inevitable. Oedipus had fallen victim since birth when his parents left him for dead. He was also unaware of who his real parents were throughout his life. It was not until he was grown up when a messenger told him that “Polybus was nothing to you, that’s why, not in blood” (1112).
Oedipus had been kept in the dark about his true past which ended up leading him to murder his real father and marry his mother. Oedipus said “My father was Polybus, king of Corinth. My mother, a Dorian, Merope. ” (852-853) He was unaware of what he was doing and that he was fulfilling his fate all along. Oedipus was a noble man and king. He had tried to do everything in his power to avoid his fate. Oedipus was sincere and wanted what was best for his city, Thebes.
He shows how he feels for his people when he tells them “Well I know you are sick to death, all of you, but sick as you are, not one is sick as I. Your pain strikes each of you alone, each in the confines of himself, no other. But my spirit grieves for the city, for myself and all of you. ” (71-76) Oedipus continuously shows his compassion and good character. He also takes responsibility for his himself once the truth is revealed: “I stand revealed at last- cursed in my birth, cursed in marriage, cursed in the lives I cut down with these hands.” (1309-1311)
Oedipus wants nothing more than to save his city from the curse and take responsibility and punishment for the fulfillment of his fate. Oedipus asks to “Drive me out of the land at once, far from sight, where I can never hear a human voice.” so that he can save his city and accept his punishment. Despite the fact that fulfilling fate is inevitable, Oedipus never gave up trying to avoid his fate. He never put himself first in life because he wanted to protect everyone close to him. It is obvious Oedipus was a victim of his fate since he was born.