What is the role of fate in the tragic plays Oedipus by Sophocles and miss Julie by Strindberg Essay

Published: 2021-06-29 01:28:59
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Fate has been used by august Strindberg in his play Miss Julie and Sophocles in his play Oedipus in many different aspects that lead to one final result, both of them ending up in misery. The plays are written on the lines of Aristotelian tragedy, and besides the tragic flaws of the protagonists, fate too acted as a malignant force leading the characters through an ordeal. However the way in which their fate was carried out was completely different as the fate of Miss Julie was self inflicted and the fate in Oedipus was the will of the gods. In this essay I will analyze the way fate has been used by the authors.
First I will look at Miss Julie. In the play the author Strindberg gave the main female protagonist Miss Julie hysteria where during his time this was used to describe women who had sexual desires but didn’t believe that they did. We can see this in the play where she was sexually attracted to Jean and begins to flirt with him. Despite his being a servant and her not being allowed in the kitchen (because the kitchen was “too dirty” for the masters) she still went inside and stayed there to spend time with him. The reason as to why the author gave Miss Julie hysteria was to develop the plot and to show that she was blind to her actions and creating her own fate of doing something without knowing it. For example when Jean was going to tell Julie about his love story but stopped because he found it childish, she insisted that he continue. This shows that she wanted to get closer to him and wanted to know more about his life which was mainly caused by her attraction to him. This example highlights the fact that Strindberg has used her interest towards Jean as a tool for her fate. Fate is responsible for the fall of Miss Julie, and it is the irony of her life that a proud aristocrat is robbed of her honour by a mere valet!
“I’m sitting on top of a pillar that I’ve climbed up somehow and I don’t know how to get back down. When I look down I get dizzy. I have to get down but I don’t have the courage to jump.”
Now I will take look at how fate has been used by the Sophocles in Oedipus. In the play the king of Thebes Laois (father of Oedipus) was told by the oracle at Delphi that his son would kill him and marry his mother i.e. the kings (Laois’s) wife. Here we see how the play depends on the will of the god’s. Then as we see later in the play Oedipus killed his father in a battle over crossing a bridge, after killing his father (Oedipus never knew that the man he killed was his father) he married the queen (his mother) and had two children with her. Oedipus in the end tries to escape from his fate but on the contrary is fulfilling the prophecy. So here we see how Sophocles has created this character “the oracle” who determines the fate of Oedipus.
At this instance we can raise another point; if Laois had not listened to the oracle then neither would Oedipus have killed him nor married his wife. In addition when Oedipus was born his parents were told that he would kill his father and sleep with his mother, so because of this horrible act that Oedipus was meant to carry out his parents decided to kill him but they couldn’t dare to kill their flesh and blood. The parents ordered a shepherd to leave the baby in a lurch on a mountain with his hands and feet tethered. But fate made that shepherd its instrument, and it so happened that the shepherd instead of killing the baby took him to the royal palace of his home town and handed then baby to King Polybos and Queen Merope. However in the end we see that Oedipus does fulfil the prophecy which shows that even though he tried to escape his fate the oracle was true from the start. From this we can see how Sophocles used his (Oedipus) destiny to develop the story and that he couldn’t run away from the will of the gods. The entire play is woven by irony.
“O god-all come true, all burst to light! O light-now let me look my last on you! I stand revealed at last-cursed in my birth, cursed in marriage, cursed in the lives I cut down with these hands!”
Now we compare the fate in both the plays and how the authors have been successful in using it. As Miss Julie has hysteria she subconsciously wanted to get sexually closer to jean and consciously never accepted it which then caused her to reach the climax, which was the point where they had sex. The malignant fate conspired and weaved an intricate web to ensnare her. Fate along with chance had laid the foundation of her destruction. It was the festive atmosphere of the midsummer’s eve; the count was far away indulging in feasts. The way her mother had inculcated bad instincts in her 0nly daughter and the way the father had brought her up. She was all alone and there was no one to restrict her temptations. She had had a recent break up with her fiancé. She felt irritated as she was passing through her menstrual cycle; the nocturnal twilight and the strong aphrodisiac influence of the flowers. The alcohol made the last detrimental impact, and she was robbed of her honour and pride under the confidence of the aroused man. Fate reduces her into a pathetic creature-a man hater, half animal. She even despises her father, and holds him responsible for ruining her,
“My love for him was without bounds-but i hated him too, he taught me to despise my own sex-he made me half woman-half man. I have not got a self”
On the other hand in Oedipus the play runs around the pinnacle of oracles. Oedipus is doomed by the Oracle at Delphi. And the fate still does not sit content; storing further adversities in Oedipus’s life. The oracle tells Creon that the plague in Thebes will be eliminated only if the man who killed his father and slept with his mother is banished. Through this play Sophocles shows his intense faith in fate and in the power of prophets like Tiresias.
Look ye, countrymen and Thebans, this is Oedipus the great,He who knew the Sphinx’s riddle and was mightiest in our state.Who of all our townsmen gazed not on his fame with envious eyes?Now, in what a sea of troubles sunk and overwhelmed he lies!Therefore wait to see life’s ending ere thou count one mortal blest;Wait till free from pain and sorrow he has gained his final rest.”
In miss Julie when the servants had come down and began to sing the song about both of them, they went into another room to be alone, here the author brings into the picture the servants so that both Julie and Jean can get into the room and have sex. As for in Oedipus when the blind prophet Tiresias tells Oedipus that he (Oedipus) is the one who committed his terrible sin, Oedipus never believes him but then goes back home and thinks upon this, this shows how Sophocles has used the prophet as a tool by the gods to portray the destiny of Oedipus. The authors use many other tools which directly or indirectly contribute to the fate of the main characters and also help in developing the plot because through each little event and incident a small piece of their fate is revealed to us.
In conclusion we can see how both authors August Strindberg and Sophocles had used fate to develop the plot and made it as a major theme of their plays, because in both the plays we see that each character is destined to end up in misery. Oedipus blinds himself with the pins while Miss Julie commits suicide. The fate is responsible for the transformation of their going metaphorically blind with the development of the plot. It was also fate that developed hamartia in the character of Oedipus. He openly rebukes people who were subordinated to him, behaving in an irresponsible way with his subjects. Fate makes his sufferings so intense that he becomes a subject of our pity. As it behoves the Greek tragic vision, the character of Oedipus is swayed by the malignant role of fate and hubris. And it was also fate that made a noble woman like Miss Julie fall into the ruts of a degenerate woman-it is the tragedy of a woman who dared to challenge the fate by attempting to overcome the cultural, environmental and gender forces of her time.

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