Many people believe that a person’s life is predetermined. These people believe that what a person will do, the kind of person they’ll be, and who their friends will is all determined when they are born into this world. That is the basic idea behind fate and destiny. However, there is a difference between the two. Destiny allows a person to actively shape their future whereas fate will occur because or in spite of their actions. Fate is what is shown in the two plays Macbeth by Shakespeare, and The Oedipus Cycle by Sophocles.
In both dramas, the characters are not in control of their own lives. Instead, they are playthings of the gods, and as they tamper with their fate, unfortunate things happen to them. In the plays Macbeth and The Oedipus Cycle, there’s a lot of evidence that humans are just playthings of the gods. In the very beginning of Macbeth, the witches told Macbeth their prophecy of him becoming king, and when the witches would tell Macbeth something, he’d believe them wholeheartedly. That’s why he went to them when he needed advice on something.
When he believes that the spirit of the King he murdered is coming back to haunt them, he says, “I will tomorrow— and betimes I will—to the weird sisters. More shall they speak, for now I am bent to know, by the worst means, the worst. For mine own good, all causes shall give way. ” [3. 4. 138-142] This quote shows Macbeth’s belief in the witches. He trusts them so much that he goes to them to ensure his own safety, and when they tell him that he will be safe until the forest comes to his castle and no man born of woman can kill him, he believes he is safe.
He finds out how very wrong he is when the intruding army brings the forest with them on their attack of the castle and Macduff proclaims that he was ripped from his mother’s womb, or a cesarean section birth. The battle ends after Macduff beheads Macbeth and is named the new king. In The Oedipus Cycle, specifically Oedipus Rex, the plague on Thebes prods Oedipus to send Creon to the Oracle of Delphi. The Oracle is a passageway between the god Apollo and the people of Ancient Greece.
When Creon returns, he informs Oedipus that, “[King Laios} was murdered; and Apollo commands us now to take revenge upon whoever killed him. ” This is what will help get Thebes out of the plague so Oedipus vows that the killer will be found and exiled. However, as the play progresses, and Oedipus finds out what really happened in his past, he discovers that he killed his own father and had children with his own mother. He blinds then exiles himself and that’s where Oedipus Rex ends. Oedipus and the people of Thebes believed Creon when he reported what the Oracle said without a second thought.
The Oracle is a way for the gods to plant prophecies and ideas in people’s heads and, because of their beliefs, they won’t question what was said. The gods just use people as amusement and that is evident in both Macbeth and The Oedipus Cycle. There is another similarity between the two plays. Both have characters that tamper with fate and after doing so, their lives take a rapid turn for the worse. In Macbeth, he killed King Duncan for one reason. The witches had prophesied that he would become Thane and shortly after that, he would become King.
After he told Lady Macbeth this, she encouraged him to take the kingship by killing King Duncan. He then proceeded to kill Duncan and ruined his life in doing so. After he killed Duncan, he felt very paranoid about people suspecting him and he was convinced that he lost all connection to God. This is evident immediately after he kills King Duncan and he says, “But wherefore could not I pronounce ‘Amen’? I had most need of blessing, and ‘Amen’ Stuck in my throat. ” [2. 2. 31-33] After Macbeth interfered with his fate and killed the king, he became so paranoid that he killed seven more people.
His personality, morals, relationships, and happiness all changed and he turned into someone very corrupt and blinded by the blood that stained his hands. In The Oedipus Cycle, there are multiple incidents spread through the three plays that give evidence to the fact that tampering with fate leads to a person’s downfall. In Oedipus Rex, Oedipus’ determination to find the killer of Laios brings his own wrongdoings to the surface and sends his life into a downward spiral where he blinds himself and exiles himself from Thebes.
In Oedipus at Colonus, it’s very ironic that the place where Oedipus is laid to rest is holy ground reserved for the Eumenides, or goddesses of fate. After he passes on, his daughter Antigone returns to Thebes. In Antigone, Creon is the ruler of Thebes. He refuses to give Polynices a proper burial and when Antigone tries, he puts her in a burial tomb alive. He then consults the prophet Teiresias who tell him, “You have thrust the child of this world into living night, you have kept from the gods below the child that is theirs: The one in a grave before her death, the other, dead, denied the grave.
This is your crime: and the Furies and the dark gods of hell are swift with terrible punishment for you. ” This quote shows that because of his own greed, Creon damned himself to hell and a lifetime of punishment. His thirst for power killed his son and wife, who, along with Teiresias, curses Creon to hell. When characters try to speed up or avoid their fate, it always gets them into deeper trouble that it normally would have. Whether that trouble be death, damnation, or something far worse, people should not tamper with fate.
Over the course of Macbeth and The Oedipus Cycle, we see that man is ultimately the plaything of the gods and bad things occur when man tampers with his own fate. To prevent this from happening, man must live life as a blind man. They cannot seek out prophecies such as Macbeth and Oedipus, and they must make the best out of what they are given by living one day at a time. This ensures that there will be no avoidance or rushing of fate and will diminish the time the gods spend playing with a certain man.