Review: Oedipus Rex by Sophocles

Oedipus Rex is a Greek Mythology in which two major facts rest, which cannot be avoided, are beautifully justified, Fate and the tragic flaw. It is totally up to the reader what he perceives.

{There was a king Named Laius. His fortune teller told him that he will born a child who will kill him and marry his wife.}

Apparently it seems that the writer values fate more than the character but inwardly it also plays its role in the tragic downfall of Oedipus Rex. This fact is universally acknowledged that fate can never be changed or averted. Man is just like a puppet in the hands of fate. After the brief study of Book it can be determined that crucial events in the book have been pre-determined by the fate or gods.


The king lavius was told, “If he begot a son, that son was fated to kill him and marry his wife.” He did his every possible precaution to avoid his fate but all in vain. As soon as Jocasta gave birth to a son, Lavius had him chained and handed him over to a trustworthy servant with a strict and precise instruction to the effect that the child be exposed on but in spite of all his precautions it happened because it had been pre-determined.

On the other hand Oedipus, the son, whom Laius had begotten, had likewise to submit the destiny which Apollo’s Oracle pronounced for him that, “You will kill your father and marry your mother.”

Oedipus tried his utmost to avoid this. The first step which he had taken in this regard was that he left that very country in which he used to live and he also left his supposed parents. His wanderings took him to the “Thebes” the people of which were facing a great misfortune.

This misfortune was that a monstrous had over powered the city and it used to ask a question from everyone and by getting no answer it would kill it. Oedipus solved this riddle by answering it. The riddle was;

“Who is that animal which used to walk with four legs at the beginning and used two at the middle and three at the end?”

Oedipus answer it is “Man”.

By now the role of fate ended and the role of destiny started. About destiny it is said that it is in the control of man. Oedipus had hasty nature and short temperament. So, according to the Profess, he should avoid killing anyone and being married but not only he killed a person but also he married a widow queen. Though he was not a sinner or criminal by the nature but it all was done by chance because “to err is human”.

His real misfortune starts when he becomes curious to know about the murder of king Laius. His wife Jocasata, his cousin and the “Teiresias” the Prophet of Oracles bides him not to do that and says;

“How dreadful knowledge of truth can be, when there is no heap in it, I know this well.”

A question emerges is, either the Oedipus is victim of fate or not? The whole story in that sense becomes a tragedy of destiny which denies human freedom but such a view would also be unsound. Sophocles (the writer) does not want to regard Oedipus as a puppet. The reason is that Oedipus has been portrait largely as a free agent. Although some of his actions were fate-bound but everything that he does on the stage from first to cast, he does as a free agent.

The immediate cause of his ruined is not the fate or gods because no god says that he must discover the truth. The cause of his ruin is his own strength, courage, loyalty to the Thebes and love for the truth. In all this, I see him as a free agent and his self-blinding and self-banishment are equally free acts of choice.

To sum up I can honestly say neither fate is totally responsible for the downfall of Oedipus nor the destiny or his own personal weaknesses. Rather it is the amalgamation of fate and destiny as life is the long sentence of sorrows punctuated with happiness.


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