Role of Free Will and Fate in Essay

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Role of Free Will and Fate in Oedipus Rex and Othello, the Moor of Venice

Free will and fate play a major role in determining the outcome the hero experiences in Sophocles' Oedipus Rex and William Shakespeare's Othello, the Moor of Venice. In Oedipus Rex, Oedipus's destiny has been predetermined and despite his many efforts, he cannot escape the future the gods have planned for him. Oedipus Rex's form relies on a chorus to serve as an emissary between the gods and the audience and ultimately aims at allowing the audience to achieve catharsis. On the contrary, in Othello, the Moor of Venice, Othello's future is determined through a series of actions that were not influenced by the gods, but rather through free will. Othello, the Moor of Venice's form breaks up the action into separate "vignettes" that ultimately highlight the depravity of man and aims to serve as a moral tale for others. The downfall of these tragic heroes can be analyzed through the roles that gods play and the roles that other individuals play.

Aristotle defined a tragic hero as "a person who is neither perfect in virtue and justice, nor one who falls into misfortune through vice and depravity, but rather, one who succumbs through some miscalculation," or due to a tragic flaw (Brown). Oedipus's tragic flaw is a combination of stubbornness and divine intervention. Throughout the play, Oedipus's stubbornness, coupled with the fact that he does not know who his biological parents are, prevent him from initially understanding his role in his biological father's death. Moreover, because he does not know the full truth about his family, he does not recognize that he has been manipulated by divine forces into killing his father and subsequently marrying his mother. On the other hand, Othello's actions are motivated by jealousy and his inability to critically analyze the "facts" that have been presented before him by Iago.

In Oedipus Rex, divine powers have been interfering with Oedipus' life before he was born. Due to a slight in hospitality committed by Laius, Oedipus's father and the former King of Thebes, the gods took it upon themselves to curse Laius and his family for generations to come. While the gods do not directly interfere with Oedipus and Laius's lives, they prophesize that these two men will destroy each…

Sources Used in Document:

Works Cited

Brown, Larry."Aristotle on Greek Tragedy." Web. 26 September 2012.

Shakespeare, William. Othello, the Moor of Venice. Web. 26 September 2012.

Sophocles. Oedipus Rex. Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Web. 26 September 2012.

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