Emotions and Free Will in Sophocles’ Oedipus the King

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Emotions and Free Will in Sophocles’ Oedipus the King

Sophocles’ play brings up the complex issues about the relationship between human’s free will and fate predestined by the Gods. It examines the nature of human confidence to defy fate as well as human’s limited ability against the unknown force that they do not completely understand (p. 609). Several remarks were made in the play to question the authority of the divine powers. If the prophecies are wrong, however, how could the play ends with the realization of the prophecies? It is because of fate serves as the framework for Oedipus’ frailties in the play. Oedipus was originally bound by his fate. However, his downfall was brought upon more by the irrational decisions he
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As the play progresses, however, the audience could observe the tragic flaw in Oedipus’ character – the arrogance, excessive pride, and persistence that leads to ineffective decision-making. Most importantly, his persistence on knowing the truth leads to decisions that cause his destruction. Oedipus is confident in his intelligence and ability to save the city of Thebes from the plague because he saved the city before by solving the riddle of the Sphinx. He is regarded as a caring king and the savior of Thebes who is favored by the Gods, “You freed us from the Sphinx … A god was with you, so they say, and we believe it – you lifted up our lives” (44-9). As a benevolence ruler of Thebes, he feels a strong commitment to the city and volunteers to find the murderer of King Laius and stop the plague. Oedipus proudly launches his investigation of the matter: “I’ll bring [the identity of King Laius’ murderer] to light myself! … Now you have me to fight for you … by avenging Laius I defend myself” (150-9). To further assure his people about his commitment, he feels the need to discuss the oracle’s report in public because he feels that hiding something would jeopardize his reputation. In addition, he ordered the banishment of the killer and publicly cursed the killer. He intends to calm their fear
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