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Free will vs Determinism - Essay Example

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429 B.C. (Knox 133), depicts the theme of free will against determinism or fate. In this mythological story of the power of prophecy and destiny against man’s struggles to exert his own will on his…
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Free will vs Determinism

Download file to see previous pages... Based on his past transgression, King Laius of Thebes, the father of Oedipus, and his descendants were doomed to tragedy as predicted by Apollo’s Oracle. Thus, the tragic hero Oedipus’ fate was sealed even before his birth (Dilman 21). Laius was destined to perish at the hands of his own son, Oedipus. The king attempts to eliminate the infant son by ordering his wife Queen Jocasta to get him killed. However, his will to divert his destiny is interceded by fate through a kindly shepherd who rescues the abandoned baby. Ultimately, Oedipus is raised by the childless king of Corynth, Polybus and his queen Merope (Sophocles 36). The greater the attempts to intervene with fate, they serve only to strengthen the victory of the prophecy.
Later Oedipus as a grown man comes to know from Apollo’s Delphic Oracle, that he would be the murderer of his father and would mate with his own mother. In an attempt to prevent this prediction from coming true on Polybus and Merope whom he believes to be his true parents, Oedipus leaves Corinth. It is clear that Oedipus pits his strength against the fate predicted for him by Apollo (Dilman 22). However, by leaving his foster home in Corynth to protect his parents from himself, unaware that Polybus and Merope were not his true parents, he makes the prophecy come true. Thus, while travelling to Thebes, he meets his true father Laius, while both are unaware of each others’ identities. The haughty father and the arrogant and impetuous son (Dilman 23) quarrel over whose chariot has the right of way, and Oedipus kills his father. Thus, fate works through the participants’ characters, and one part of the Oracle’s prophecy comes true. He frees the kingdom of Thebes from a sphinx’s curse (Sophocles 10), is rewarded with the kingdom and married to the dowager Queen Jocasta, his biological mother, while each is unaware of the other’s identity, consequently fulfilling the entire prophecy.
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