Upon reading “Oedipus” by Sophocles, Oedipus the tragic hero is responsible for his downfall. Fate and free will are two opposing ideas that Sophocles portrays ambiguously into the play by leaving it up to the audience to choose which one of the two controls Oedipus’ life. His hamartia was a result of a personality full of hubris, arrogance and a rushed, unwise decision-making, decisions that ultimately led him to his downfall. Oedipus’ tragic fate could have been prevented if his choices were not made by an inflated ego.
The most obvious reasons that shows Oedipus’ responsibility is stated at scene four of the play ”I do not know how I could bear the sight of my father, when I came to the house of death, or my mother, for I have sinned against them both so vilely that I could not make my own peace by strangling my own life” (Sophocles 1342) Oedipus proclaims that he went to the house of the death king Laius and marry the queen. The grief is his alone which means he takes responsibility for his actions, as he states, "And I pronounced this malediction upon myself”" (Sophocles 1328). Although Oedipus takes responsibility, he is not the only person to blame. Jocasta and Laius, the biological parents, should be also be responsible since they were warned that their child was cursed, and they should have made sure that Oedipus was killed. As Oedipus regretfully mentions: "If only I had died, this weight of monstrous doom could not have dragged me, and my darlings down" (Sophocles 1342).
When Oedipus encounters Laius at the crossroads his actions reveal a lot about his impulsive behavior and lack of self-control that sets him on the road to fulfill the prophecy of his fate. The scene was more of an extreme road rage, it was unnecessary to kill Laius and it could have been avoided. Sophocles utilizes this location where the three roads meet to show that Oedipus could have chosen a different path where he doesn’t have to deal with Laius but instead his impulsiveness got the best of him therefore leading him toward becoming a tragic hero.
Another scenario that proves that fate is not responsible for the fulfillment of the prophecy, is when Oedipus arrives at Thebes, he is presented with yet another choice: to become the king and to wed the queen, or to move on. Once again, Oedipus makes the wrong choice and possibly having solved the sphinx riddle he felt that being entitled to be a king is