The Invisible Enemy
Some people believe their destiny is predetermined, created long before they were born. They believe prophecies are messages from above that an individual chooses to follow or not. Destiny is a term for the development of a course of events beyond a person’s control. Prophecies act as guidance for them to mostly make an attempt to change their destiny which in some unusual cases they try to find its completion (though in these situations the prophecy is certainly not what we believe it was).
In literature, many great authors like Sophocles, Aeschylus, Euripides, and William Shakespeare have all written about characters discovering their destiny in prophecy and then making an attempt to change it. It is unfortunate that for these characters, knowing their destiny is most likely more dangerous than not knowing it. A great illustration of this a play was written by Sophocles titled “Oedipus The King”, A king that eventually found out that finding out their destiny and then messing around with it becomes the reason for his downfall. Oedipus became so forward that he felt he was invincible and missed important information about his prophecy, though in the end searching for the truth makes him ignorant and the fact that he is sealing his own fate.
Sophocles’ play simply shows a man who finds out, to his surprise, that he is not in control to lead his own life. Rather, the play gives an illustration of how a person can find ways to maintain their independence within the limits established by their destiny. Fate certainly shapes the characters’ lives in the story, but it does not influence them completely. Prophecies steadily come true in Oedipus the King, and we can say that destiny is a real force in the environment of the play. However, it is the individual own preference on what journey take toward their pre-decided goals. When Oedipus found out that it is himself who must be banished to stop the plague in Thebes, he instantly agrees to yield to the command and leave the city. His decision felt like he was motivated by a strong sense of dreadfulness and disgrace, but throughout the play, he demonstrated his loyalty to his people, and his choice to leave was driven by his hope to see Thebes spared.
The decisions that he and his parents made were by being foolish and arrogant, but his decision, in the end, earned him a little respect from his people. Sophocles’ play states that people have the opportunity to decide the nature of their own characters, if not always the outcomes of their lives. Sophocles views the issue of human freedom by setting the play long after the underlying prophecy has been satisfied. By starting the play here, at the height of Oedipus' prosperity, Sophocles not only made Oedipus fall more emotionally and outrageous. He additionally demonstrated that the vital issue was not whether the prediction will work out as expected—it previously did, sometime in the past—yet how Oedipus would handle the revelation of his wrongdoings.
Perhaps, Oedipus did not see himself as weak but as a man of vigorous action, as it was demonstrated that he was really determined to find out the truth, even as it turns outs that the truth will endanger him. When he finally found out that he accidentally fulfilled the prophecy he once spent his life trying to avoid, He did not submit to the Gods but instead, he did their command by banishing the cause of the plague of their city, and also took the situation into extreme action by deciding to blind himself first. Oedipus did not seek to avoid his punishment, but he did assure his right to address that punishment as he sees fit. Even as he was brought low, he declined to surrender power over his own life. Oedipus was burdened with a dreadful curse even though it was not his fault. In the sense that his destiny was uncontrolled. His actions, however, were not. Oedipus could not avoid the prophecy, but that prophecy only influenced the limits of his own freedom. Within its capacity, he was free to do what he wanted to do.
People often think that when something very tragic happens in our lives, they will instantly come to the conclusion that it was meant to happen or in other words destiny. Free will and fate are two ideas that are opposing each other and were consistently infused by Sophocles into his play. It is up to the audience to understand the reality of this argument. Fate was recognized as part of life in ancient Greece. They based every aspect of their life upon fate. Sophocles took a direct view of the whole idea of free will. Free will is the ability of an individual to decide what life that individual would like to be and have the freedom to live according to what they want and thus choose their own fate. Humankind has free will and can alone choose how their life is going to be. Both concepts played an essential part in Oedipus’ downfall.