Plot of Oedipus Rex
Oedipus Rex is a tragedy in classical style plot. The plot starts with the exposition of the dramatic conflict. Then follows with the rising action. The climax then brings a turning point at the high point of action. The falling action then occurs and the tragedy end with the catastrophe.
Oedipus asks the suppliants what their problem is. They explain to Oedipus that the god of plague and pyre is attacking Thebes. They ask for his help because he is the king who saved Thebes from the Sphinx and restored the city. Oedipus says that he has sent Kreon, his wife’s brother to find out what he can from Apollo. Kreon brings news that Thebes suffers because late king Laios’s murder has not been avenged. Oedipus decides to seek this murderer, not only for the purpose of cleansing but also the fear that murder might also be a threat to his own life. This is the exposition of the dramatic conflict of finding out the mystery of king Laios murder.
The rising action is this search. It starts with Oedipus promising that the person responsible for Laios death will be driven out of Thebes. Oedipus sends for Teiresias, the blind seer who serves Apollo. Teiresias does not want to tell Oedipus about the murder, but tells Oedipus to leave things as they are. Oedipus accuses Teiresias of being the murderer and that is why he won’t reveal the truth. Teiresias then tells that Oedipus is the one that killed Laios. Oedipus is shocked and angered by such an accusation. He accuses Teiresias that he is lying. Oedipus then figures that Kreon wants to be made king. He accuses Kreon of bribing Teiresias with favors once he is king. Teiresias rebuts this with that fact that he is Apollo’s and accuses Oedipus of being blind to the truth. Teiresias tells Oedipus that he is both father and brother of his children and husband and son to his wife. He tells Oedipus to think on his words. This is the begging of the truth and insight being given to Oedipus.
He chorus questions the second sight when they have seen Oedipus defeat the Sphinx. Kreon hears about Oedipus’s accusations and is offended by being called disloyal. Oedipus and Kreon confront each other with their offenses. Kreon defends himself to Oedipus, but Oedipus is not entirely convinced. Oedipus decides to think on it and they call a truce for Iokaste, wife of Oedipus and sister of Kreon.
Oedipus, continuing with the rising action, then questions Iokaste, the widow of Laios, what she knows. She tells him that Laios death was foretold. That he would be killed by his own child. To prevent this, Laios took their three-day-old son, pierced his ankles and left him for dead in the mountains. Iokaste also gives Oedipus the king’s description and tells that she heard that highwaymen killed the king at the place where three roads meet.
Oedipus tells that someone questioned his heritage and his parents rebuked it. But he remained suspicious so he questioned the gods. The gods said that he would kill his father and sleep with his mother. He fled his homeland to prevent this fate. While traveling, he had come upon a place where three roads meet, when he came encountered a group of men traveling in the same fashion as the king. They forced him off the road and Oedipus retaliated and killed them all. He believes that he is responsible for Laios’s death. Iokaste questions this saying that the stories are conflicting, that more than one man attacked the king. To confirm or deny this, Oedipus sends for the only witness, a shepherd.
Iokaste prays to Apollo for deliverance from the Defilement and Oedipus’s distraction and confusion. A messenger comes with news from Oedipus hometown. He tells Oedipus that Polybos, Oedipus’s father, has died from died of natural causes. Oedipus expresses his relief that his father did not die by his hand. Iokaste and Oedipus still fears the fate proclaimed for him and his mother. The messenger reveals that Polybos was not Oedipus true father. The messenger gave Oedipus to King Polybos and his wife because they were childless. A shepherd found the baby with his ankles pinned and tended him. The shepherd then gave the baby to the messenger. Oedipus inquires about the shepherd. The shepherd is the witness that has already been sent for. Iokaste figuring the truth begs Oedipus not to talk to the shepherd. She says he is better not knowing his origins. This continues the rising action.
Oedipus wanting to know his origin continues on. He inquires to the shepherd regarding the baby. The messenger tells that that the baby is Oedipus. The shepherd learning this, does not want to tell about the baby. Oedipus questions him until he reveals that the child, Oedipus, was the child of King Laios and Iokaste. Oedipus realizes that all the prophecies had come true. Oedipus did marry his mother and killed his father. His fate had been fulfilled. This is the climax and the turning point of the action.
The falling action begins with Oedipus searching out Iokaste. He finds that she has hung herself not being able to handle the truth. Oedipus then takes her golden broaches and blinds himself with them. Oedipus blinds himself so that he can not see the horror everywhere. This does not blind him to his misery, for he had shamed his father, his mother and his children. He prays for death or exile.
It is Kreon who decides that Oedipus should be exiled. This way he would be away form that the place, he brought such disgrace. He leaves his children, who are always to be alone. The end catastrophe leaves this once proud, noble and honorable king, blind, shamed and cast out of his home to a fateworse then death, alone.