The Complex Relation of Self-determination to Destiny in Oedipus Tyrannos

  •  Ruoqi Li    


Oedipus Rex, one of the three famed Theban tragedies by the Greek dramatist Sophocles, vividly portrays the complex and often troubling theme of humanity’s relationship to fate. By detailing the way in which Oedipus, king of Thebes, is reduced by the cruelty of predestination into a puppet with no semblance of control over the course of his own life, Sophocles seems to cast doubt on, not only the effectiveness, but also the meaning of self-control. Thus, freedom of choice, humanity’s final assertion of independence, appears to dissolve into hollow mockery. But even then, Sophocles confirms the fundamental significance of the self-knowledge and dignity that comes from struggling against tyrannical destiny. It is this dignity that sustains king Oedipus through his terrible ordeal so that he comes out of it tortured but not destroyed. It is also this elevation that adds to a tale of endless victimization a whole new dimension of complexity and imbues the words with a touch of tragic and transfiguring sublimity.

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  • ISSN(Print): 1925-4768
  • ISSN(Online): 1925-4776
  • Started: 2011
  • Frequency: quarterly

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