- Term Papers and Free Essays

Oedipus Rex: Your Character Is Your Fate

Essay by   •  July 9, 2011  •  1,112 Words (5 Pages)  •  1,492 Views

Essay Preview: Oedipus Rex: Your Character Is Your Fate

Report this essay
Page 1 of 5

Does character determine fate, or is fate responsible for shaping one’s character? In Sophocles’ dramatic tragedy, Oedipus Rex, character plays a very important role in determining the protagonist’s fate. The extent to which this occurs is difficult to conclude, for during the play it seems character isn’t the only factor that led to the final result. Although character can be influenced by external circumstances, a situation’s outcome will be arrived to as a result of the decisions an individual’s personality has predestined him to make.

Aspects of Oedipus’ character are presented to us almost from the very beginning of the play. His impetuosity, the swiftness of his thoughts and actions, is imminent from the moment in which the citizens of Thebes come to him requesting that he do something about the plague. The fact that he already has sent Creon in search for answers to the oracle in Delphi, and his ability to anticipate his subjects’ needs makes him an excellent and extremely qualified ruler. On the other hand, this same impulsiveness is what guides him towards accomplishing his fate exactly as it has been preordained. Oedipus makes imprudent decisions throughout the play, decisions the haste in his character doesn’t allow him to think through thoroughly before acting upon. These range from the insulting of Teiresias or the murdering of his father, to his sudden flee from Corinth, and they all mount on top of one another, to end up condemning Oedipus “by his own proclamation” (Sophocles 31).

The first step Oedipus makes towards what results in his destiny’s fulfilment is leaving his home in Corinth. His sudden departure comes as soon as he learns of his fate through the oracle, but it is not until he knows what he is fated to do and tries to avoid it that he involuntarily comes closer to carrying it out. This knowledge unleashes the hastiness of his character, and, without knowing it, he heads towards his meeting with destiny. Character, therefore, becomes a secondary determinant of his fate’s fulfilment, as it is knowing what his fate will be what motivates Oedipus to escape it.

Blinded by the haste and pride in his character, the murdering of his father and the other men escorting the carriage leads Oedipus to unknowingly realize his fate. At this point in the play Oedipus still believes Polybus to be his father, and leaves Corinth as soon as he knows he is fated to murder him. Evidently, Oedipus flees in order to try to prevent this from occurring, but is confronted with the fulfilment of his fate with the same promptness with which he tried to evade it.

It was the knowledge of Oedipus’ fate what once led Laius and Jocasta into trying to prevent it. In doing so, they gave their son to a shepard who in turn gave it to another, so that Oedipus ended up being raised by Corinth’s royal family. If Oedipus had known Laius to be his real father, in discovering his fate character would have led him to act in the same way. He would have fled Thebes just as rapidly as he left Corinth; the possibility of his fate being completed decreasing. Once more, it seems that being aware of predetermined fate is what fulfils it.

The part of his fate that describes how he “should mate with (his) own mother” is fulfilled similarly (Sophocles 22). When Oedipus leaves for Thebes, he believes Merope to be his true mother. In marrying Jocasta, he is marrying one woman out of the many he could have chosen to marry. If, aware his true parentage, he again distanced himself from his real mother, the completion of this part of his fate would also have been impossible.

The marriage of Oedipus and Jocasta brings about the birth of their two daughters, Antigone and Ismene. Their existence, as well as Laius’ absence confirms that Oedipus’



Download as:   txt (6.5 Kb)   pdf (89.5 Kb)   docx (10.8 Kb)  
Continue for 4 more pages »
Only available on
Citation Generator

(2011, 07). Oedipus Rex: Your Character Is Your Fate. Retrieved 07, 2011, from

"Oedipus Rex: Your Character Is Your Fate" 07 2011. 2011. 07 2011 <>.

"Oedipus Rex: Your Character Is Your Fate.", 07 2011. Web. 07 2011. <>.

"Oedipus Rex: Your Character Is Your Fate." 07, 2011. Accessed 07, 2011.