Oedipus the King: Play Analysis

Topics: Oedipus, Oedipus the King, Greek mythology Pages: 12 (4997 words) Published: November 29, 2010
Oedipus the King
Part 1: Conflict Analysis
The first unit of action in the first scene of the play begins with Oedipus addressing the people of Thebes. I assume that a crowd has gathered and he is talking to them, but the Priest is the only one that is talking back to him so for this unit I will the characters in conflict are Oedipus and the Priest. Oedipus knows that something is wrong in Thebes so he has to ask his people about it. He wants to know what their troubles are. The Priest tells Oedipus of the horrible plague that is terrorizing Thebes and reminds him of his past glories and how he now has to come through for Thebes once more. He charges him with a quest. Oedipus vows to do so and save the townspeople. Creon enters and tells the people and Oedipus that in order to save Thebes, their previous king Laius' never captured murderer must be found and thrown out of town. This scene is important because it sets up the goal of Oedipus: to find out. He has to find the killer. Without this scene, the play doesn't happen.

The chorus is praying to the Gods to help them. They're describing their plight to them, but they're the Gods so it's not like they don't know. Anyway, Oedipus enters and tells the chorus that he hears their prayers and asks the people of Thebes to come forward with any knowledge they might possess about the killer's identity, and he swears to save the city. The chorus suggests Oedipus speak to Teiresias and find out what he knows. Oedipus replies that he has already sent for him. This scene is important because it during this scene that Oedipus vows to find out the truth.

Teiresias enters, and Oedipus immediately asks him to tell him what he knows. Teiresias refuses him, telling him he will not hurt himself or his king, and this makes Oedipus progressively angrier. Oedipus says that he now believes that Teiresias is the one who planned the murder. It's now that Teiresias tells Oedipus that he himself is the murderer. Oedipus refuses to believe it, and Teiresias goes on to say that he is lying with his mother as well. Oedipus tells him that he's a liar and now accuses Creon of helping Teiresias with the murder. Teiresias tells him that he is wrong and that he will be ruined by days' end. Teiresias then leaves. This is amazingly important because it introduces the concept that Oedipus himself is responsible for the plague of Thebes. It also introduces the thought to Oedipus about his years-ago prophecy being true. This scenes set up the conflict for the rest of the play.

Creon comes to clear himself of the charges Oedipus has leveled against him. Creon talks to the chorus about what was said about him. Oedipus enters and immediately accosts Creon. They get into an argument, during which Oedipus accuses Creon of going after the throne. Creon explains why he would never want the throne. He likes living like a king, but he wants none of the power because it comes with responsibilities. The chorus tells Oedipus that Creon's logic is sound, but Oedipus will have none of it. Jocasta enters and tells them to stop acting like children. Both the chorus and Jocasta tell Oedipus to believe Creon because he has never spoken false before. Oedipus relents, and Creon leaves. This scene is important because it starts to show that maybe Teiresias was speaking the truth, and it also highlights Oedipus' rash, rageful nature. He makes angry accusations with nothing to back them up.

Jocasta tells Oedipus to pay no mind to prophets and explains how her and her first husband Laius received a prophecy about how he was supposed to be killed by his own son, but they had their son cast out of Thebes, and Laius was killed at a three-way crossroads just before Oedipus arrived at Thebes by a band of thieves. Oedipus tells Jocasta that he may be the one who murdered Laius....
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