What controlled the lives of the characters in the play Oedipus Rex? Some naively believe that one's own actions are the cause of joys and disappointments in life. Oedipus Rex obviously shows that Sophocles, the playwright, supported the idea of fate. It is not by ones own actions that make our final outcome, but we are all destined from the beginning.
Many of the characters believed in oracles and fate. " Fate rules us and nothing can be foreseen" (p 345). When Oedipus was an infant, Jocasta tried to kill him so she could sidestep her fate. Unfortunately the oracle could not be broken, and Oedipus survived. Fate brought them back together and the prophecy proved true. In the play, a messenger said that, "The greatest griefs are those we cause ourselves" (p 356). Some reason that Oedipus caused himself great grief out of freewill. They argue that he knowingly killed his father and slept with his mother. This is not the case, because Oedipus made a great effort to separate himself from whom he thought was his real parents.
Sometimes one might try to overcome fate by running away from it. Oedipus was successful in running away, or at least he thought he was, when he said of himself, "And so, for all these years I have kept clear of Corinth, and no harm has come" (p 345). When Oedipus was an infant, he was rescued from death and adopted to a family in Corinth. As a result he ran away from his adopted parents and fate unfortunately brought him closer to his biological parents. Oedipus was later called on to searched for the murderer of Laius, and Teiresias told him, "I say that you are the murderer whom you seek" (p 320). When Oedipus met a man at the crossroads, he willingly killed him. Some claim that since the man was Laius, Oedipus intentionally killed him to fulfill the prophecy. Although Oedipus killed Laius, he did not kill him knowing that he was his father.