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Oedipus Theme Essay

By: Damian Martinez

Napoleon Bonaparte once said There is no such thing as an accident;
it is fate misnamed. In this quote Napoleon suggest that anything- either an
accident or an action- is caused by fate. In Oedipus Rex by Sophocles, fate is
what causes everything to go wrong in Oedipus life. This play therefore
teaches the reader that even with free will and choosing your own actions,
you will eventually meet your fate.
Through careful reading of the play the realization that the cause of
everything was the Shepard and his decision to let baby Oedipus live and the
implication of this decision is Oedipus, meeting his fate. The Shepard is given
the baby by Jocasta to be disposed of because its destiny is to kill his father,
however on page XXIII the Shepard saidsaid, I pitied the baby, my king
(Sophocles) and so Oedipus was spared because of the Shepards pity and
his reluctance to kill the baby. This event; therefore, causes Oedipus to live
instead of stopping the oracle from happening it causes it to come true and it
brings about a tragic down fall for Oedipus. We also see that characters in
this play also blame the Shepard for the oracle coming true because Oedipus
says Death take the man who unbound my feet on that hillside and
delivered me from death to life if only I had died. (Sophocles XXVI) and
Choragus replies with I would have wished the same. (Sophocles XXVI). In
this conversation Oedipus wishes that he and the Shepard would havehad

died so that the prophecy would have never come true.and this would result
in the Shepard never saving Oedipus. Thereby causing the oracle to not
come true. This ties into the theme because even though Oedipus wishes
that had died when he was a child it unfortunately goes against the will of
the gods the Shepard thought that by saving Oedipus and sending him far
away he would prevent the oracle from coming true- unfortunately we know
and he is savedthat it did the opposite. Although this was a major factor that
helped to bring about the oracle, there were still other events that caused it
as well.
Not only did the Shepards choice allow the oracle to come true but
also Oedipus choice to leave Corinth to prevent the Oracle, aided in it
coming true as well. On page XV Oedipus explaining to Jocasta why he
thinks he killed Laios he said I should be my fathers murderer. I heard all
this and fled (Sophocles XV). Since Oedipus thought that by leaving
Corinth he would prevent the oracle, it actually made him meet Laios. Due to
Laios men forcing Oedipus off the road and Oedipus quick temper it
resulted in Oedipus killing everyone. He even confessed this to Jocasta on
page XV I killed all. (Sophocles XV). This aids to prove the theme because
even though Oedipus tried to prevent his fate by leaving Corinth, it actually
lead hime to kill Laios which we later know to be his father, and his fate
comes true.
Although Oedipus actions such leaving Corinth caused his oracle to
come true, another factor was that he willingly wanted to know about his

past. Oedipus kept searching about his past even though Jocasta and
Teiresias told him not to because he was confident in himself. For example,
on page XXI he said let it come! However base my birth, I must know about
ithow could I not be glad to know my birth.(Sophocles XXI). Since he is so
confident in himself his searching leads him to finding out that he did kill his
father and sleep with his mother, and it was thanks to his choice to not heed
the others warnings and learn about his past that caused him to find this out.
This ties in with the theme because due to Oedipus choice to learn about his
past he also learned that he did what his fate had foretold and in the end he
was exiled from his land.
In Oedipus Rex no matter what they tried to do Oedipus couldnt
escape his fate. It is evident that even with free will your fate will still occur
and Oedipus serves as an example that this theme is true. This leaves us
with a lesson to learn and that is; no matter what your fate is and what you
do to stop it, you cant escape your fate just like Oedipus.