Oedipus And Othello Essay

1791 words - 7 pages

The role of the gods/fate in human affairs is a central theme in most works of literature. In Greek literature, particularly, the will of the gods is commonly attributed to human experiences. In Oedipus the King, for instance, the oracle’s message that Oedipus will kill his father and marry his own mother suggests that he was a puppet in the hands of the gods, who manipulated the events that led to his fall. However, the character’s fate is not entirely attributable to the work of the gods. In the play, Oedipus meets his fate due to his determination to unravel the mysteries surrounding the king’s death, despite warnings by the prophet Tiresias and his wife/mother, and his quest to prove the oracles wrong in their declaration that he is the king’s murderer. In contrast, the character of Othello in William Shakespeare’s Othello meets his downfall as a result of the schemes of other characters, chief among them lago, who wanted to avenge Othello’s decision to bypass him for the liutenant’s position and instead promote Cassio, a junior officer. With reference to the play Oedipus by Sophocles and Othello by William Shakespeare, this essay disputes the statement that Oedipus’s downfall is the work of the gods while that of Othello is self-inflicted. On the contrary, this essay argues that the downfall of Oedipus is self-inflicted while Othello is a victim of the lies and evil schemes conjured up by lago, who wants to settles scores with Othello for not promoting him to the lieutenant’s position.
Oedipus’ fall is largely attributed to his blind preoccupation to avoid the prophecy proclaimed by the oracle (DeRoo and Manoussakis 113). Despite the declaration by the oracle on his birth, Oedipus fulfills the prophecy in his attempt to avoid its fulfillment. Ironically, the prophecy would not have come to pass had he resisted running away from his fate. When he learns from the oracle Delphi that he will kill his father, Oedipus runs away from Corinth to avoid the prophecy’s fulfillment. Unknown to him, he embarks on a journey that brings him closer to fulfilling the prophecy that he will defile his mother’s bed and murder the father who engendered him (951-954). It is while he is on the run from his foster father that he comes face to face with his fate; he meets and kills King Laius, his own father, at the three crossroads.
Oedipus’ obsession to unravel mysteries is a factor in his fall. In fact, an ignorant Oedipus would have been far better off than a knowledgeable Oedipus (Will 44). During his stay in Corinth, a visitor calls him a bastard. His curiosity takes him to an oracle to seek an explanation, where he learns about his fate. On the other hand, Oedipus would not have embarked on this journey for ‘self-discovery’ if he had dismissed the drunkard’s remarks. Oedipus, as king of Thebes, learns from his wife that they had disposed off the son who was to kill his father; therefore, there was no possibility of the prophecy’s fulfillment....

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