Knowledge Brings Sorrow; Fate vs. Free Will The themes of “fate versus free will” and “knowledge brings sorrow” are present throughout the play Oedipus Rex, by Sophocles. Fate and free will are antitheses of each other, just as knowledge and sorrow are. Many years before Oedipus began his journey to Thebes, his father, King Laius, heard a prophecy saying that his son would kill him (65). In order to prevent this from happening, Laius had the baby abandoned, and had his feet bound together with a nail for extra precaution.
Since prophecies usually turned out to be true, this is an example of how Laius tried to escape his fate. However, he didn’t know that Oedipus survived. On his way to Thebes, Oedipus ran into Laius on the road, not knowing he was his father. He ended up killing him, just as the prophecy said. The prophecy also said that Oedipus would marry his mother. You can infer that fate yet again fulfills its role, and the prophecy becomes true after Oedipus kills his father and continues to Thebes. Just as Oedipus didn’t know that Laius was his father, he didn’t know that Jocasta was his mother.
He became the new king of Thebes because he married Jocasta (65). Throughout the play, Oedipus believes that all of his actions are based on free will, not fate. He doesn’t find out that he killed his father and married his mother until awhile after it happened. Everything that happens to Oedipus is really his fate. Once Jocasta and Oedipus Strineka 2 realize they are mother and son, Jocasta kills herself. Here, fate plays another role. Free will really isn’t present in this play. Everything that happens is due to fate.
As Amit Sodha said, “All events are fated in some way. ” This is also where “knowledge brings sorrow” comes into play. Because Jocasta and Oedipus found out that they were mother and son, Jocasta kills herself and Oedipus gouges out his eyes. They do not want to accept the fact that they were mother and son and married. Sodha also said “The trouble with fate is that it can leave you with a feeling of helplessness. ” It’s obvious that Oedipus and Jocasta definitely felt helpless in their situation. Although the prophecy said nothing about Oedipus killing himself, it said hat he would kill his parents. He didn’t kill Jocasta himself, but the reason she killed herself in the first place was because of Oedipus and their marriage. This is a good example of how some things are better off left unknown. In this situation, knowing everything was obviously not such a good idea. People wouldn’t want to know every single detail if things were said clearly, and not in such an ambiguous manner. When things are said so that they could possibly have multiple meanings, people become curious to figure out what is actually meant.
The outcome of figuring out meanings could be good or bad. Just like the saying “curiosity killed the cat,” curiosity killed Laius, Jocasta, and Oedipus, and placed a curse on their whole family. In the play, fate triumphs over free will, and knowledge definitely brings sorrow. It’s ironic that fate triumphs over free will and knowledge brings sorrow because most people do things without thinking that it’s part of their fate, and you would think that knowing more would enlighten you rather than bringing you grief and sorrow.
In reality, people who are generally “smarter” and have more knowledge are usually the ones who are most successful in life, and being successful is usually associated with having a good life and being happy. Strineka 3 However, it makes more sense that people who are more aware of life and their surroundings are the ones who feel sorrow and grief. They’re the ones who know what life is really like. They see the flaws of the world and how careless and ignorant people can be. It is possible for knowledge to limit the lives of people, because those who know what is going on often try to change things so the outcome will hopefully be different.
For example, if someone had a serious illness but didn’t know about it, they would go on living their life normally without any worry. But if this person knew about the illness, they would probably live their life worrying about what’s going to happen to them. In Oedipus, Laius worries about whether or not the prophecy that his son would kill him will come true. He takes ridiculous actions just to prevent it from happening, but he ends up being killed by his son anyways due to his fate.
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