“All those who were meant to die have died: those who believed one thing, those who believed the contrary thing, and even those who believed nothing at all, yet were caught up in the web without knowing why. ” This particular quote by Jean Anouilh, author of Antigone, helped me choose fate, one of the more interesting underlining themes in all three plays: Oedipus the King, Antigone, and Medea, as the topic for my paper. No matter how hard the protagonists or antagonists in each play tried to change the fate of the protagonists, they failed and fate took over the chain of events.
When humans try to change that which is beyond their control, they often fail and make the matters even worse than before as expressed by the authors of the three plays. When Oedipus was born to Laius and Jocasta, their happiness was interrupted by a horrible prophecy: Oedipus will kill Laius and marry Jocasta when he grows up. The mood in Thebes changed from joyous to somber for the king chose to have his own son killed so that he could remain alive.
Considering the situation from Laius’ point of view, it is not difficult to understand his actions but the mere fact that he tried to challenge fate causes his actions to seem ironic and cynical. By tinkering with fate, Laius caused the death of Jocasta, and Oedipus’ blindness and banishment in addition to the events caused by fate. In Antigone, Anouilh portrayed Creon in a similar way as Sophocles portrayed Laius. They both contributed more damage than benefit to the protagonists and their families with their “noble intentions. ”
When Antigone violated the law created by Creon and tried to bury the body of her brother, Creon should have ordered her to be killed right away. Since he tried to persuade Antigone to forget about the body of her brother and marry his son, which was against her fate, his plan did not work out. One might think Antigone, being of noble blood and having a chance to marry a prince, was out of her mind to jeopardize her life while worrying about a dead body but Antigone’s fate was to die fighting for respect of her family. By delaying her death, Creon inadvertently caused the death of his wife and son.
Jason tried to interfere with Medea’s fate and lost his life as well as the life of his loved ones. Medea’s fate was to die a proud woman with each of her enemies avenged. While escaping with Jason from Colchis, she contributed to the death of her father and brother to save Jason. When both of them returned to Greece with their two sons, Jason, seeking power, left Medea and married the king’s daughter. By doing so, he betrayed Medea so her fate had to step in and take over. Jason, his new wife, and Jason and Medea’s two sons lost their lives because Medea’s fate was avenging her betrayal.
In all three plays, the protagonists were of noble blood but even that did not stop tragedy, those who were meant to die have died… Analyzing the three plays, the tone of the three authors toward the audience deals with fate and using imagery they suggest that fate can not be changed. The mere attempts to change fate proved to lead to tragedy as portrayed in the three plays. The greatest lesson one can take from analyzing the three plays from the prospective of fate is to leave it alone and accept the reality of the situation when it comes along.