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Gardner 1

Blind Chance
Fate may pose as an impediment, but mankind is instilled with the ability to make
individual choices. Fate greatly impacts the archetypal Greek tales, but free will also plays a part
with poignant distinction. Sophocles dramatizes the omnipotence of fate and destiny in his
classic tragedy Oedipus Rex. Laius, Jocasta, and Oedipus may be subjects to fate, but their
overall demises arise from their own sins and lapses in judgment. The theme of the play dictates
never to become a victim of ones own life, but to conduct oneself honorably in every instance. It
is not blind chance that gets Oedipus banished, but blindness to reason.
Laius, the former King of Thebes, is described as a cowardly, deplorable monarch who
plagues the city with a riddling Sphinx and curses his family by means of his sinful actions.
Laius perceives the Oracles admonition that Oedipus should one day marry [his] own mother,
and with [his] own hands shed [his] fathers blood, and the wicked father retaliates by binding
the baby by the ankles and sending a shepherd to carry him off into the mountains to die. This
action seals Laius fate, ironically bringing on the death he attempts to evade.
Jocasta, with whom Oedipus shares both the birthing and marriage bed, resembles an
unpardonable mother and an inadequate wife. She fails to protect her newborn son from the
destructive hands of Laius. Jocastas knowledge of Laius attempted murder forsakes her as an
accomplice. She does not mourn after her husbands untimely death, but immediately delves into
incestuous relations with the newly ordained King Oedipus. Her pride blinds her from
acknowledging divine wisdom. She proclaims, I do not mean to look to left or right for fear of
soothsaying, shamelessly declaring herself to be superior to godly design. Jocasta represents the
plaything of father and son, never taking accountability for her mistakes and supplementing a
less than virtuous life with a cravenly suicide.

Gardner 2
Oedipus, exalted as the mightiest head among [them] all, rules the land of Thebes as a
just, but arrogant king. As a young man, Oedipus observes the Pythian Oracles prophesy at a
place called Delphi. He is instilled with knowledge, yet pleads ignorance and unwisely runs
away from his adopted father Polybus. Having heard rumors that he is not the natural son of
Polybus and Merope, Oedipus should travel with extreme caution. Caution, however, is not in
Oedipus nature. Rash and hot-headed, Oedipus slaughters the first group of men he comes
across, because they jostle him as he passes the crossroads. Secondly, Oedipus takes to wife a
woman who is old enough to be his mother. He directly disregards all reason, starkly contrasting
against his brother-in-law Creon, who he brazenly declares a betrayer and conspirator when
Creon informs him of the truth. Oedipus conducts himself most wretchedly and condones for his
wrongs by mutilating himself to atone for his figurative blindness.
Laius, Jocasta, and Oedipus suffer because of their conceited notions that they can escape
destiny and outrun fate. In doing this, they indulge in wickedness and corruption. Laius, who
fears death; Jocasta, who sacrifices the innocent; and Oedipus, whose pretentiousness births rash
decisions, get what is coming to them in an elaborate twist of fate. These tragic characters realize
that pride is the germ of kings and that with time who sees everything the truth will
inevitably emerge. Perhaps man does not make his own destiny. Maybe Zeus and Poseidon are
engaged in a delightful game of chess where Oedipus is the fallen king, Jocasta is the sacrificial
queen, and Creon is the dutiful pawn. Oedipus, Jocasta, and Laius may not make the rules, but
they play their own game. The characters of Oedipus Rex would be better off facing their
destiny with courage and honor.

15 October 2015