King Lear and King Oedipus Essay

1231 Words Apr 29th, 2014 5 Pages
William Shakespeare’s King Lear and Sophocles’ Oedipus Rex are two classic pieces of literature that are worth studying. This essay will discuss how free will and destiny function in the two plays. First, the plays will be introduced and analyzed separately to provide a basis for contrast and comparison. Once the foundation is established, more advanced ideas will be discussed, such as the concept of evil and literal and figurative sight. Oedipus Rex will be discussed first. The role of destiny is very obvious is this play. The plot is built around destiny; when Oedipus hears that his destiny is to murder his father and marry his mother, he sets out to confirm this prediction and then prevent it. In his attempt to avoid his fate, …show more content…
There are also elements of destiny in King Lear. When Gloucester hears Edmund’s story about Edgar’s alleged plans of murder, the Earl blames it on the recent eclipse: “These late eclipses in the sun and moon portend no good to us: though the wisdom of nature can reason it thus and thus, yet nature finds itself scourged by the sequent effects” (I, ii, 112-127) [pp. 55-56]. But as soon as he leaves, Edmund speaks his mind on the subject of predestined fate. He says, “This is the excellent foppery of the world, that, when we are sick in fortune,--often the surfeit of our own behaviour,--we make guilty of our disasters the sun, the moon, and the stars; as if we were villains on necessity; fools by heavenly compulsion; knaves, thieves, and treachers by spherical pre-dominance; drunkards, liars, and adulterers by an enforced obedience of planetary influence; and all that we are evil in, by a divine thrusting on: an admirable evasion of whoremaster man, to lay his goatish disposition to the charge of a star!” (I, ii, 128-131) [pp. 56] Given how easy Edmund fools Gloucester in the same scene, it seems that Shakespeare is encouraging the audience to see Edmund’s view as the more intelligent and reasonable compared to Gloucester’s belief. However, the author’s true views are questioned again in the last act. After the failure of Edmund’s plot to disgrace his brother, Edgar says the gods are just, and Edmund

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