Study Guide

The Story of Oedipus Fate and Free Will

Fate and Free Will

Probably more than any other Greek myth, the story of Oedipus pops up in debates about the power of fate vs. free will. You can see why, right? Oedipus and every other character in the story could be seen as being totally controlled by fate. The Oracle spews out her prophecies, and no matter what the characters do to avoid all the horribleness in store, horribleness is still what they get. Even so, each character does make specific choices of their own free will, which causes all the bad stuff to happen. So, should we view fate as a higher power controlling our actions, or as a chain reaction of our personal decisions and the decisions of others?

Questions About Fate and Free Will

  1. Which characters in the story seem to believe that they have power to control their own fate? Explain your answer.
  2. How does Oedipus's understanding of destiny evolve throughout the story?
  3. Which characters in the myth most strongly represent the power of fate?
  4. In what ways do Oedipus and Laius try and avoid their fate?
  5. How is Oedipus's fate intertwined with those around him?

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