Oedipus Rex - Conflict, Climax, Resolution

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Oedipus Rex - Conflict, Climax, Resolution

Sophocles’ tragic drama, Oedipus Rex, sees the conflict develop and reach a climax, and this is followed by a catastrophe and resolution of the conflict.

E. T. Owen in “Drama in Sophocles’ Oedipus Tyrannus” describes the climax of the drama:

The central scenes contain the heart of the drama, that for which the rest exists – the drama of the revelation. The poet’s task here is to make its effect adequate to the expectation. He manages to spin it out to nearly 500 lines, and, instead of thinning, increases the excitement by spreading it out; it becomes a threefold revelation rising to a climax (36).

Thus it is that Owen sees the conflict escalating through three steps or revelation to a climax. This does not correspond exactly with the steps or episodes of another critic. In Oedipus Tyrannus: Tragic Heroism and the Limits of Knowledge, Charles Segal says that the protagonist fares well in the first series of tests, but does poorly in the second series:

The first three tests are, respectively, Oedipus’ meetings with Creon, Teiresias, and then Creon again. In each case he is pursuing the killer as someone whom he assumes is other than himself. . . . The second series begins with Jocasta and continues with the Corinthian messenger and Laius’ herdsman. Now Oedipus is pursuing the killer as possibly the same as himself. . . . In this set his goal shifts gradually from uncovering the murderer to discovering his own parents. The confidence and power that he demonstrated in the first series of encounters gradually erode into anger, loss of control, and fear (72).

With each of the six encounters the main conflict of the drama buil...

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...ien. Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice-Hall, Inc., 1968.

Jevons, Frank B. “In Sophoclean Tragedy, Humans Create Their Own Fate.” In Readings on Sophocles, edited by Don Nardo. San Diego, CA: Greenhaven Press, 1997.

Owen, E. T. “Drama in Sophocles’ Oedipus Tyrannus.” In Twentieth Century Interpretations of Oedipus Rex, edited by Michael J. O’Brien. Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice-Hall, Inc., 1968.

Segal, Charles. Oedipus Tyrannus: Tragic Heroism and the Limits of Knowledge. New York: Twayne Publishers, 1993.

Sophocles. Oedipus Rex. Transl. by F. Storr. no pag.

http://etext.lib.virginia.edu/etcbin/browse-mixed new?tag=public&images=images/modeng&data=/texts/english/modeng/parsed&part=0&id=SopOedi

Van Nortwick, Thomas. Oedipus: The Meaning of a Masculine Life. Norman, OK: University of Oklahoma Press, 1998.

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