The Conflict, Climax and Resolution in Oedipus Rex Essay

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The Conflict, Climax and Resolution in Oedipus Rex

Sophocles’ tragic drama, Oedipus Rex, presents a main conflict and lesser conflicts and their resolution after a climax.

In Oedipus Tyrannus: Tragic Heroism and the Limits of Knowledge, Charles Segal had 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
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. . .(21-22).

The “godlike mastery” to which Van Nortwick refers is the same mastery which Creon in his final lines designates as the cause of the tragic dimension in the life of the protagonist: “Crave not mastery in all, /For the mastery that raised thee was thy bane and wrought thy fall.” Oedipus’ total mastery of the investigation resultant from the Delphic oracle’s declaration, yes, his forceful pursuit of the investigation against the wishes of Jocasta, Teiresias, the messenger and the shepherd, ultimately spells the downfall of King Oedipus.

Abrams says that the conflict is between the protagonist and antagonist (225). Is the antagoinst within Oedipus in the form of his “godlike mastery,” as Creon believed? Or is the antagonist weird/wyrd/fate, so that the oracle demonstrated the gods’ power to predestine their creatures?

Frank B. Jevons in “In Sophoclean Tragedy, Humans Create Their Own Fate,” answers these questions:

Every action of Oedipus is the natural, necessary outcome of his character and his circumstances, and when peace does come to him, it is from within. . . . the cause of Oedipus’ deeds is not destiny, but circumstances and himself. . . .Sophocles shows how men run on their fate of their own free-will. Oedipus is warned by Apollo of his doom, and he fulfils his doom; but all his acts are his own; neither man nor God can be blamed. The lesson as well as the art of Sophocles is that man’s fate, though
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