In Oedipus Rex, how do characters conflict with fate?

Quick answer:

In Oedipus Rex, Oedipus and Jocasta both conflict with fate by trying to escape it. Jocasta tries to avoid her fate of marrying her son, who kills her husband, by having her son killed. But he lives and ends up marrying her. Oedipus tries to avoid the fate of killing his father and marrying his mother by fleeing Corinth. But on the journey, he kills his father and later marries his mother.

Expert Answers

An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

In Oedipus Rex, there are several characters who conflict with fate. They learn about what their fate will be and try to fight it with their own actions. However, fate is always stronger than they are, and they are unable to defeat it.

For example, one significant character who one could say "conflicts with fate" is Oedipus's wife and mother, Jocasta. Consider how Jocasta heard Teiresias’s prophecy that she would sleep with her son and that her son would kill her husband. She is troubled by this and orders a shepherd to kill her son, Oedipus, because she thinks that this will allow her to avoid this horrible fate. However, the shepherd ends up saving her son, and she is not able to get around her fate.

Oedipus also attempts to avoid fate when hears the oracle at Delphi’s prophecy that he will marry his mother and kill his father. He tries to escape fate by fleeing Corinth and going to Thebes. But on the way, he kills Laius, who unbeknownst to him is his real father. He then goes on to marry Jocasta, who he does not know is his mother. Oedipus thus fulfills the prophecies and neither him nor his mother escape their respective fates.

See eNotes Ad-Free

Start your 48-hour free trial to get access to more than 30,000 additional guides and more than 350,000 Homework Help questions answered by our experts.

Get 48 Hours Free Access
Approved by eNotes Editorial