Can Destiny Be Avoided? Essay, Research Paper
Can destiny be avoided?
Many conflicts occur in daily society: between two people, among groups of people, and sometimes between people and their destiny. The most interesting aspect of Oedipus Rex is the conflicts it contains throughout the play: ?Oedipus Rex is a tragedy of destiny? (Dodds 17). There are many conflicts that occur in the play Oedipus Rex; the three most crucial occur between Laius and Jocaste and the gods, between Oedipus and his destiny, and finally between good and evil.
Oedipus Rex presents many conflicts, but the first occurs between Laius and Jocaste and the gods. Laius and Jocaste disobey the gods by marrying one another. The result of the disobedience leads to a child who later kills his father and marries his mother. After the child is born, Laius and Jocaste, King and Queen of Thebes, give the three-day-old infant to a shepherd and instructs the shepherd to kill the child. This is an attempt to avoid the curse that is pronounced on them by the gods. Sigmund Freud states that the tragedy ?lies in the contrast between the supreme will of the gods and the vain attempts of mankind to escape the evil that threatens them? (102). By arranging for the child?s death, Laius and Jocaste hope that the
conflict between them and the gods will disappear. The shepherd feels pity for the baby and gives it to another
shepherd in hopes that he will take the child to a distant land. The child is given to King Polybus and Queen Merope of Corinth, and they name him Oedipus.
The second conflict occurs when Oedipus discovers his destiny. He learns from the Delphic oracle that his destiny is to kill his father and marry his mother. Oedipus does not want this to happen; ?like his real father, Laius, Oedipus attempted to avoid his fate? (Feder 295). Oedipus does not know that King Polybus is not his real father, so he leaves Corinth to avoid his destiny. On the journey leading away from the city of Corinth, Oedipus comes to a place where three roads meet and is ordered off the road by a man who he does not know is King Laius, his real father. They exchange words, and Oedipus kills the man in a sudden quarrel. Oedipus continues to travel down the road where he encounters the sphinx, which is terrorizing Thebes and kills anyone who fails to answer her riddle correctly. ?Oedipus answered the riddle correctly? (1087). As a reward, he is named King of Thebes and replaces King Laius and is given the hand of Jocaste in marriage. The murder of King Laius
and the marriage of Jocaste fulfills Oedipus? destiny without his awareness.
The third conflict is between good and evil. A plague breaks out within the city of Thebes and will not cease until the murderer of King Laius is found. Oedipus thinks that he is doing well by trying to find the murderer, but little does he know that evil lies within him and that he is the murderer. Oedipus does not know that the man he killed on the road was King Laius. In Classical Drama, Hathorn states ?The king is shown that he himself is both the problem and the answer? (238). Oedipus is the problem because he caused plague by murdering King Laius. He is also the solution; because in his search for the killer, he discovers that he is the murderer. Knox states, ?The catastrophe consists of Oedipus? recognition of his true identity? (31). Oedipus realizes that the gods do not control evil, but evil lies within humanity.
In summary, the tale of Oedipus Rex teaches that the gods have the power of foreknowledge of one?s destiny. When one disobeys the gods, the result always ends in tragedy. Do to Laius and Jocaste disobeying the gods and getting married, they eventually give birth to a child whose destiny is to kill his father and marry his mother. Through a set of bizarre circumstances, Oedipus does indeed murder his own
father and marry his mother. The gods do not control evil, but evil is present in all humanity.