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"What fates impose, that men must needs abide; It boots not to resist both wind and tide"
Oedipus Tyrannus by Sophocles and Blood Wedding by Federico Garcia Lorca are both tragedies that reveal the impact of fate on the protagonists. In both, the predominant force of fate brings about several events even when or because the characters of each play be it Oedipus, Laius, Jocasta from Oedipus Tyrannus or the bride, groom and Leonardo from Blood Wedding attempt to change the course of fate. The writers seem to imply through their plays that fate cannot be fought with nor changed and if one attempts to do so, the consequences could be devastating.
Fate is the cause of the doom brought about to Oedipus as forecast by the Oracle prior to the birth of this character. Much later in his life, Oedipus, on learning from the Oracle what fate had in store for him, makes attempts to prevent it as do his father and mother at his birth. Though Oedipus, Jocasta and Laius take preventive measures to falsify the prophecy their actions ultimately result in the prophecy of the Oracle being fulfilled, bringing home the truth that fate is the master of our lives, our existence and purpose.
Blood Wedding commences with the agony of a character, that is, the bridegroom, and his quest to identify the woman of his dreams and marry her. Unfortunately, the lady of his desires was earlier engaged to an individual named Leonardo. The bridegroom is caught in a dilemma as Leonardo happens to be a part of the Felix family. The issue is extremely sensitive as the family of the bridegroom and that of Leonardo have a major feud. The resultant outcome of this feud was that the bridegroom's father and brother were slaughtered without any mercy being shown to them. The mother and the bridegroom have been emotionally scarred for life. As the play is in progress, it is learnt by the readers that the bride is insanely in love with Leonardo though he has entered matrimony with the cousin of the bride. The bride agrees to marry the bridegroom just to conceal her emotions for Leonardo. Fate here is shown to play with the lives of many of the characters leading to a tragic finale of the story.
The actions of fate commences when the Oracle states that Oedipus would slay his father, Laius and marry his own mother, Jocasta. This prophecy startles the rulers and they decide to take preventive measures to turn their fate around. Laius and Jocasta then abandon the baby on a mountain after fastening him securely.The oracle states the fate of the King and Queen of Thebes, Laius and Jocasta, and of Oedipus. King Laius andJocasts assume that the child will die of exposure and thus rids them of the fear of the probable doom fate had in store for them at the hands of their child, Oedipus. However, they overlook the fact that such abandonment of the baby would accelerate the chances of fate ruling and the prophecy being fulfilled as they would not be able to monitor the baby and his activities. Laius and Jocasta play a vital part in bringing the dictates of fate true. Their plans would have worked out by all means if the trusted shepherd who was assigned the task to carry out the abandonment had not taken the child to be raised by King Polybos and Queen Merope as they were childless.
In Blood Wedding though the brideis resigned to her fate by marrying the groom, yet her love for Leonardo never ceases and she is constantly tormented by his thoughts: "It's as though I'd drunk a bottle of sweet wine and I was lying on a bed of flowers. And I feel myself being dragged along and I know I'm drowning--but I go anyway." Her state of mind is in shambles and to put an end to her misery, she elopes with Leonardo just after her wedding to the groom, creating a stir in the process. Fate plays avital part in bringing about the tragedy to all the people involved. After the elopement of the bride with Leonardo, there is an intensive hunt by the groom to track down the couple. The groom craves for revenge for the dual acts of deceit and destruction, that is, Leonardo's taking away his bride and the insult to his family. His desire for revenge is driven particularly by these two aspects.
Unaware of what fate has in store for him, Oedipus grows up without knowing that he is not the child of Polybos. He is so greatly traumatized when he gets a hint of the fact that he undertakes a trip to Delphi to discover the truth of his birth. The Oracle tells him what his fate is but does not tell him about his parentage. On believing that his fate involved the slaying of Polybos, his supposed fatherand marrying Merope, his supposed mother, he departs from the city, making a promise to return only after his father's death. Here, in a way, Oedipus further complies unknowingly with the dictates of his fate. If Oedipus had not believed the man who stated that he was not Polybos's son nor in the Oracle, he would have continued to live in harmony with Polybus and Merope, the king and queen who adopted him. With the intent to defy fate, Oedipus, as destiny would have it, does all that leads to the fulfilling of the prophecy. This play creates a scenario which explicitly states that one cannot - no matter how - attempt to gain control over fate and its workings and if one proceeds to do so he or she will end up sealing his or her own fate; such is the power of fate. Had Oedipus's parents accepted the prophecy instead of devising ways to control it then in all probability, events may have played themselves out differently. The trauma that Oedipus encounters on learning the truth is brought out when he gouges his eyes out crying:"What is there for me to see and love? What sight would give me joy? "
Fate and prophecy do not merely limit themselves to the prophecy of the Oracle but also determine the future of Oedipus when he attempts to find the murderer of Laius to rescue the city. Teiresias, the priest of Apollo is blind, but knows the true identity of Oedipus and the reality behind this truth. Oedipus mocks at the priest for his blindness but towards the end,ironically, Oedipus proves himself to have been blind, blind to the truth of his identity, makes himself physically blind and banishes himself as fate dictated. Jocasta is also victimized by the dictates of fate as her fate of her son killing her husband and marrying her could not be averted.
In the plot of BloodWedding, fate merges with the theme of deception and choices made. The decision of the bride to wed the groom, though her feelings of love of Leonardo are very much there, result in the brutal deaths of both the men towards the conclusion of the play. The irony of the situation here is that the bride who has the groom and Leonardo pining for her ends up losing both of them. Fate plays a disturbing and conflicting role in the Blood Wedding by bringing about a medley of events which are predictable and unpredictable and lead to the final tragic end.
In Oedipus Tyrannus, the characters are shown to be avoiding what is prophesied for them and thus bringing on their fated doom whereas in Blood Wedding, the wrong done by the Bride and Leonardo, their going against social norms, and the error of judgement made by the bridegroom result in the tragic end. While the protagonist of one is unaware of his fate the protagonists of the other are responsible for their fates. The bride undergoes a conflict caused by her impulse, her intense love for him ("you're so strong, so clever, you ride your horse so well") and her wish to abide by the social norms and even give in to her pride that makes her reject Leonardo, but Leonardo is led on by his love consciously and persuades her to elope with him. Thus they are responsible for their tragic destiny. On the other hand, Oedipus is led on by prophecies and oracular pronouncements that cannot be verified.
Both the works convey that the more one tries to conquer fate, the more fate controls or conquers him or her. The writers are probably trying to clarify their stand by stating that one's life must go on without trying to worry or control aspects such as fate or destiny. Further research can be done to find out whether it is only fate that brings about a downfall of the tragic protagonists.
Word Count: 1482