- Term Papers, Book Reports, Research Papers and College Essays

Attempting to Cheat Fate

Essay by   •  November 24, 2010  •  Essay  •  1,214 Words (5 Pages)  •  1,303 Views

Essay Preview: Attempting to Cheat Fate

Report this essay
Page 1 of 5

Would it ever seem reasonable for a winner of the Nobel Prize in Literature to be associated with a king who murders his father and procreates with his mother? It is possible because of one quotation by the 1921 Nobel Prize Literature winner Anatole France, that he is connected to the notorious king Oedipus from Sophocles' famous play, 'Oedipus Rex'. "It is only human nature to think wisely and act foolishly" (Anatole France) best exemplifies the theme in Sophocles' 'Oedipus Rex': fate cannot be cheated nor altered. It is human to try and change fate, which is a foolish act because it is impossible to do. This can be seen in many aspects of the play including the context and characters of the story and the hubris of the royal family; Jocasta, Lauis and Oedipus. Within each of these components many different literary devices can be used to further explain how the theme of the story relates to the quote by Anatole France.

A prime example can be seen in the 2nd Episode where Oedipus confesses everything to Jocasta from the prophecy to the incident when he killed a man similar to Lauis' description. The parts of his monologue that best illustrate changing fate and being foolish are when Oedipus says, " And so unknown to mother and father I set out for Delphi...he [the oracle] flashed before my eyes a future great with pain, terror...I can hear him cry, 'You are fated to couple with your will kill your father, the man who gave you life!' I heard all that and ran...Now, Jocasta, I will tell you all. Making my way toward this triple crossroad I began to see a herald, then a brace of colts drawing a wagon, and mounted on the bench...a man, just as you've described him...I strike him in anger! ... I killed them all- every mother's son!" This exemplifies the statement that trying to change fate is foolish because in attempting to avoid his awful destiny, he kills his own father. One might argue that this is not a well thought out example because Oedipus had no idea that one of the men he killed on the crossroads was his father. On the other hand, Oedipus did not have to kill anyone; he let his anger control him. This in turn always leads a person to tragedy. Descriptive diction is used to enhance the episode because in ancient Greek theatre, imagination was the only outlet for visual depictions of the most gruesome of scenes. One such scene is when the messenger describes Oedipus' self-mutilation:

He rips off her brooches, the long gold pins

Holding her robes- and lifting the high,

Looking straight up into the points,

He digs them down the sockets of his eyes, crying...

His voice like a dirge, rising, over and over

raising the pins, raking them down his eyes.

And at each stroke blood spurts down the roots,

splashing his beard a swirl of it, nerves and clots-

black hail of blood pulsing, gushing down.

Because of this fact, the word choice has the power to determine what the viewer and reader are visualizing in his or her mind. A clear example can be seen when Oedipus says, "I am an abomination-heart and soul!". The use of abomination is ironic because Oedipus has created abominations by coupling with his mother rather than being an abomination himself.

There are other characters in the play besides Oedipus who exhibit that trying to change destiny is foolish; one such character is Jocasta. The Queen of Thebes was told that her son was destined to kill his father and marry his mother. Jocasta tried to cheat fate by giving the infant to a shepard to kill. Because she did not do the job herself the child remained alive to eventually come back to her as her second husband. Jocasta is the symbol for blissful ignorance because she attempts to stay unintelligent until the anagnorisis when she runs into her chambers and hangs herself but even then she never says the truth. Another character that attempts to change fate is Lauis. Like his wife, Jocasta, Lauis does not involve himself with the murdering of his son



Download as:   txt (6.7 Kb)   pdf (93.5 Kb)   docx (11.4 Kb)  
Continue for 4 more pages »
Only available on
Citation Generator

(2010, 11). Attempting to Cheat Fate. Retrieved 11, 2010, from

"Attempting to Cheat Fate" 11 2010. 2010. 11 2010 <>.

"Attempting to Cheat Fate.", 11 2010. Web. 11 2010. <>.

"Attempting to Cheat Fate." 11, 2010. Accessed 11, 2010.