The major conflict of Oedipus the King arises when Tiresias tells Oedipus that Oedipus is responsible for the plague, and Oedipus refuses to believe him. The rising action of Oedipus the King occurs when Creon returns from the oracle with the news that the plague in Thebes will end when the murderer of Laius, the King before Oedipus, is discovered and driven out. The climax of Oedipus the King occurs when Oedipus learns, quite contrary to his expectations, that he is the man responsible for the plague that has stricken Thebes—he is the man who killed his father and slept with his mother. falling action · In Oedipus the King, the consequences of Oedipus’s learning of his identity as the man who killed his father and slept with his mother are the falling action. This discovery drives Jocasta to hang herself, Oedipus to poke out his own eyes, and Creon to banish Oedipus from Thebes.
foreshadowing · Oedipus’s name, which literally means “swollen foot,” foreshadows his discovery of his own identity. Tiresias, the blind prophet, appears in both Oedipus the King and Antigone and announces what will happen to Oedipus and to Creon—only to be completely ignored by both. The truth that comes from Tiresias’s blindness foreshadows the revelation that inspires Oedipus to blind himself.
Oedipus the King plot A plague has stricken Thebes. The citizens gather outside the palace of their king, Oedipus, asking him to take action. Oedipus replies that he already sent his brother-in-law, Creon, to the Oracle at Delphi to learn how to help the city. Creon returns with a message from the Oracle: the plague will end when the murderer of Laius, former king of Thebes, is caught and expelled; the murderer is within the city. Oedipus questions Creon about the murder of Laius, who was killed by thieves on his way to consult an oracle. Only one of his fellow travelers escaped alive. Oedipus promises to solve the mystery of Laius’s death, vowing to curse and drive out the murderer. Oedipus sends for Tiresias, the blind prophet, and asks him what he knows about the murder. Tiresias responds cryptically, lamenting his ability to see the truth when the truth brings nothing but pain. At first he refuses to tell Oedipus what he knows. Oedipus curses and insults the old man, going so far as to accuse him of the murder. These taunts provoke Tiresias into revealing that Oedipus himself is the murderer. Oedipus naturally refuses to believe Tiresias’s accusation. He accuses Creon and Tiresias of conspiring against his life, and charges Tiresias with insanity. He asks why Tiresias did nothing when Thebes suffered under a plague once before. At that time, a Sphinx held the city captive and refused to leave until someone answered her riddle. Oedipus brags that he alone was able to solve the puzzle. Tiresias defends his skills as a prophet, noting that Oedipus’s parents found him trustworthy. At this mention of his parents, Oedipus, who grew up in the distant city of Corinth, asks how Tiresias knew his parents. But Tiresias answers enigmatically. Then, before leaving the stage, Tiresias puts forth one last riddle, saying that the murderer of Laius will turn out to be both father and brother to his own children, and the son of his own wife.
After Tiresias leaves, Oedipus threatens Creon with death or exile for conspiring with the prophet. Oedipus’s wife, Jocasta (also the widow of King Laius), enters and asks why the men shout at one another. Oedipus explains to Jocasta that the prophet has charged him with Laius’s murder, and Jocasta replies that all prophecies are false. As proof, she notes that the Delphic oracle once told Laius he would be murdered by his son, when in fact his son was cast out of Thebes as a baby, and Laius was murdered by a band of thieves. Her description of Laius’s murder, however, sounds familiar to Oedipus, and he asks further questions. Jocasta tells him that Laius was killed at a three-way crossroads, just before Oedipus arrived in Thebes. Oedipus, stunned, tells his wife that he may be the one who murdered Laius. He tells Jocasta that, long ago, when he was the prince of Corinth, he overheard someone mention at a banquet that he was not really the son of the king and queen. He therefore traveled to the Oracle of Delphi, who did not answer him but did tell him he would murder his father and sleep with his mother. Hearing this, Oedipus fled his home, never to return. It was then, on the journey that would take him to Thebes that Oedipus was confronted and harassed by a group of travelers, whom he killed in self-defense. This skirmish occurred at the very crossroads where Laius was killed
Oedipus sends for the man who survived the attack, a shepherd, in the hope that he will not be identified as the murderer. Outside the palace, a messenger approaches Jocasta and tells her that he has come from Corinth to inform Oedipus that his father, Polybus, is dead, and that Corinth has asked Oedipus to come and rule there in his place. Jocasta rejoices, convinced that Polybus’s death from natural causes has disproved the prophecy that Oedipus would murder his father. At Jocasta’s summons, Oedipus comes outside, hears the news, and rejoices with her. He now feels much more inclined to agree with the queen in deeming prophecies worthless and viewing chance as the principle governing the world. But while Oedipus finds great comfort in the fact that one-half of the prophecy has been disproved, he still fears the other half—the half that claimed he would sleep with his mother. The messenger remarks that Oedipus need not worry, because Polybus and his wife, Merope, are not Oedipus’s biological parents. The messenger, a shepherd by profession, knows firsthand that Oedipus came to Corinth as an orphan. One day long ago, he was tending his sheep when another shepherd approached him carrying a baby, its ankles pinned together. The messenger took the baby to the royal family of Corinth, and they raised him as their own. That baby was Oedipus. Oedipus asks who the other shepherd was, and the messenger answers that he was a servant of Laius. Oedipus asks that this shepherd be brought forth to testify, but Jocasta, beginning to suspect the truth, begs her husband not to seek more information. She runs back into the palace. The shepherd then enters. Oedipus interrogates him, asking who gave him the baby. The shepherd refuses to disclose anything, and Oedipus threatens him with torture. Finally, he answers that the child came from the house of Laius. Questioned further, he answers that the baby was in fact the child of Laius himself, and that it was Jocasta who gave him the infant, ordering him to kill it, as it had been prophesied that the child would kill his parents. But the shepherd pitied the child, and decided that the prophecy could be avoided just as well if the child were to grow up in a foreign city, far from his true parents. The shepherd therefore passed the boy on to the shepherd in Corinth. Realizing who he is and who his parents are, Oedipus screams that he sees the truth and flees back into the palace. The shepherd and the messenger slowly exit the stage. A second messenger enters and describes scenes of suffering. Jocasta has hanged herself, and Oedipus, finding her dead, has pulled the pins from her robe and stabbed out his own eyes. Oedipus now emerges from the palace, bleeding and begging to be exiled. He asks Creon to send him away from Thebes and to look after his daughters, Antigone and Ismene. Creon, covetous of royal power, is all too happy to oblige.
Settings Oedipus’ palace in Thebes - The entire play takes place here where people come and go revealing parts of the complete story. Corinth - The city where Oedipus grew up with the people he thought to be his parents. Iocaste’s room - Although not actually shown on stage, Iocaste committed suicide and Oedipus gouges out his eyes here
The scar on Oedipus foot - Oedipus got this scar when the servant from Laios tied him by his foot and left him to die. This is where Oedipus (which means swollen foot) got his name. “Messenger: I cut the bonds that tied your ankles together. / Oedipus: I have had the mark as long as I can remember. / Messenger: That is why you were given the name you bear.”
Teiresias - He symbolizes Oedipus’ blindness to the truth in the beginning of the play and shows Oedipus’ temper. His title of the blind seer exemplifies the theme of blindness and sight. “Teiresias: ... A Blind man, / Who has his sight now.”
Analysis of Major Characters Oedipus Oedipus is a man of swift action and great insight. At the opening of Oedipus the King, we see that these qualities make him an excellent ruler who anticipates his subjects’ needs. When the citizens of Thebes beg him to do something about the plague, for example, Oedipus is one step ahead of them—he has already sent Creon to the oracle at Delphi for advice. But later, we see that Oedipus’s habit of acting swiftly has a dangerous side. When he tells the story of killing the band of travelers who attempted to shove him off the three-way crossroads, Oedipus shows that he has the capacity to behave rashly. At the beginning of Oedipus the King, Oedipus is hugely confident, and with good reason. He has d Thebes from the curse of the Sphinx and become king virtually overnight. He proclaims his name proudly as though it were itself a healing charm: “Here I am myself— / you all know me, the world knows my fame: / I am Oedipus” (7–9). By the end of this tragedy, however, Oedipus’s name will have become a curse, so much so that, in Oedipus at Colonus, the Leader of the Chorus is terrified even to hear it and cries: “You, you’re that man?” (238). Oedipus’s swiftness and confidence continue to the very end of Oedipus the King. We see him interrogate Creon, call for Tiresias, threaten to banish Tiresias and Creon, call for the servant who escaped the attack on Laius, call for the shepherd who brought him to Corinth, rush into the palace to stab out his own eyes, and then demand to be exiled. He is constantly in motion, seemingly trying to keep pace with his fate, even as it goes well beyond his reach. In Oedipus at Colonus, however, Oedipus seems to have begun to accept that much of his life is out of his control. He spends most of his time sitting rather than acting. Most poignant are lines 825–960, where Oedipus gropes blindly and helplessly as Creon takes his children from him. In order to get them back, Oedipus must rely wholly on Theseus. Once he has given his trust to Theseus, Oedipus seems ready to find peace. At Colonus, he has at last forged a bond with someone, found a kind of home after many years of exile. The single most significant action in Oedipus at Colonus is Oedipus’s deliberate move offstage to die. The final scene of the play has the haste and drive of the beginning of Oedipus the King, but this haste, for Oedipus at least, is toward peace rather than horror.
Creon spends more time onstage in these three plays than any other character except the Chorus. His presence is so constant and his words so crucial to many parts of the plays that he cannot be dismissed as simply the bureaucratic fool he sometimes seems to be. Rather, he represents the very real power of human law and of the human need for an orderly, stable society. When we first see Creon in Oedipus the King, Creon is shown to be separate from the citizens of Thebes. He tells Oedipus that he has brought news from the oracle and suggests that Oedipus hear it inside. Creon has the secretive, businesslike air of a politician, which stands in sharp contrast to Oedipus, who tells him to speak out in front of everybody. While Oedipus insists on hearing Creon’s news in public and builds his power as a political leader by espousing a rhetoric of openness, Creon is a master of manipulation. While Oedipus is intent on saying what he means and on hearing the truth—even when Jocasta begs and pleads with him not to—Creon is happy to dissemble and equivocate. At lines 651–690, Creon argues that he has no desire to usurp Oedipus as king because he, Jocasta, and Oedipus rule the kingdom with equal power—Oedipus is merely the king in name. This argument may seem convincing, partly because at this moment in the play we are disposed to be sympathetic toward Creon, since Oedipus has just ordered Creon’s banishment. In response to Oedipus’s hotheaded foolishness, Creon sounds like the voice of reason. Only in the final scene of Oedipus the King, when Creon’s short lines demonstrate his eagerness to exile Oedipus and separate him from his children, do we see that the title of king is what Creon desires above all. Creon is at his most dissembling in Oedipus at Colonus, where he once again needs something from Oedipus. His honey-tongued speeches to Oedipus and Theseus are made all the more ugly by his cowardly attempt to kidnap Antigone and Ismene. In Antigone, we at last see Creon comfortable in the place of power. Eteocles and Polynices, like their father, are dead, and Creon holds the same unquestioned supremacy that Oedipus once held. Of course, once Creon achieves the stability and power that he sought and Oedipus possessed, he begins to echo Oedipus’s mistakes. Creon denounces Tiresias, for example (1144–1180), obviously echoing Oedipus’s denunciation in Oedipus the King
(366–507). And, of course, Creon’s penitent wailings in the final lines of Antigone echo those of Oedipus at the end of Oedipus the King. What can perhaps most be said most in favor of Creon is that in his final lines he also begins to sound like Antigone, waiting for whatever new disaster fate will bring him. He cries out that he is “nothing,” “no one,” but it is his suffering that makes him seem human in the end.
The Chorus The Chorus reacts to events as they happen, generally in a predictable, though not consistent, way. It generally expresses a longing for calm and stability. For example, in Oedipus the King, it asks Oedipus not to banish Creon (725–733); fearing a curse, it attempts to send Oedipus out of Colonus in Oedipus at Colonus (242–251); and it questions the wisdom of Antigone’s actions in Antigone (909–962). In moments like these, the Chorus seeks to maintain the status quo, which is generally seen to be the wrong thing. The Chorus is not cowardly so much as nervous and complacent—above all, it hopes to prevent upheaval. The Chorus is given the last word in each of the three Theban plays, and perhaps the best way of understanding the different ways in which the Chorus can work is to look at each of these three speeches briefly. At the end of Oedipus the King, the Chorus conflates the people of “Thebes” with the audience in the theater. The message of the play, delivered directly to that audience, is one of complete despair: “count no man happy till he dies, free of pain at last” (1684). Because the Chorus, and not one of the individual characters, delivers this message, the play ends by giving the audience a false sense of closure. That is, the Chorus makes it sound like Oedipus is dead, and their final line suggests there might be some relief. But the audience must immediately realize, of course, that Oedipus is not dead. He wanders, blind and miserable, somewhere outside of Thebes. The audience, like Oedipus, does not know what the future holds in store. The play’s ability to universalize, to make the audience feel implicated in the emotions of the Chorus as well as those of the protagonist, is what makes it a particularly harrowing tragedy, an archetypal story in Western culture. The Chorus at the end of Oedipus at Colonus seems genuinely to express the thought that there is nothing left to say, because everything rests in the hands of the gods. As with Oedipus’s death, the Chorus expresses no great struggle here, only a willing resignation that makes the play seem hopeful—if ambivalently so—rather than despairing. Oedipus’s wandering has, it seems, done some good. The final chorus of Antigone, on the other hand, seems on the surface much more hopeful than either of the other two but is actually much more ominous and ambivalent. Antigone ends with a hope for knowledge—specifically the knowledge that comes out of suffering. This ending is quite different from the endings of the other two plays, from a mere truism about death or the fact that fate lies outside human control. The audience can agree with and believe in a statement like “Wisdom is by far the greatest part of joy,” and perhaps feel that Creon has learned from his suffering, like Antigone seemingly did at the beginning of the play. While the Chorus may believe that people learn through suffering, Sophocles may have felt differently. Antigone represents the last events in a series begun by Oedipus the King, but it was written before either of the other two Oedipus plays. And in the two subsequent plays, we see very little evidence in Antigone that suffering teaches anyone anything except how to perpetuate it.
Jocasta - Oedipus’s wife and mother, and Creon’s sister. Jocasta appears only in the final scenes of Oedipus the King. In her first words, she attempts to make peace between Oedipus and Creon, pleading with Oedipus not to banish Creon. She is comforting to her husband and calmly tries to urge him to reject Tiresias’s terrifying prophecies as false. Jocasta solves the riddle of Oedipus’s identity before Oedipus does, and she expresses her love for her son and husband in her desire to protect him from this knowledge.
Tiresias- Tiresias, the blind soothsayer of Thebes, appears in both Oedipus the King and Antigone. In Oedipus the King, Tiresias tells Oedipus that he is the murderer he hunts, and Oedipus does not believe him. In Antigone, Tiresias tells Creon that Creon himself is bringing disaster upon Thebes, and Creon does not believe him. Yet, both Oedipus and Creon claim to trust Tiresias deeply. The literal blindness of the soothsayer points to the metaphorical blindness of those who refuse to believe the truth about themselves when they hear it spoken.
Fate is a theme often occurring in Greek plays. From the beginning of the play Oedipus is destined to "kill his father and mate with his mother." Oedipus runs away from Corinth and meets his biological father, only to kill him. He then proceeds to Thebes where a sphinx is terrorizing the city. He solves the riddle and marries his mother, unwittingly. This only makes the prophecy come true when he shares the wedding bed in holy matrimony, likewise as Louis XIV .
Oracles, fate and free will
Two oracles dominate the plot of Oedipus the King. At lines 711-14, Jocasta relates the prophecy that was told to Laius before the birth of Oedipus. Laius was only told of the patricide and not of the incest: An oracle once came to Laius (I will not say 'twas from the Delphic god himself, but from His ministers) declaring he was doomed To perish by the hand of his own son, A child that should be born to him by me. The oracle is implicitly conditional: if Laius has a son, that son will kill him. Laius, therefore, is in no way a victim of fate. He knowingly fathers a child and suffers the predicted consequences. Hearing this prophecy prompts Oedipus to recall one he received from the Delphic Oracle shortly before he left Corinth (787-93): And so I went in secret off to Delphi. Apollo sent me back without an answer, so I didn’t learn what I had come to find. But when he spoke he uttered monstrous things,strange terrors and horrific miseries— it was my fate to defile my mother’s bed, to bring forth to men a human family that people could not bear to look upon, to murder the father who engendered me. Given our modern concept of fate and fatalism, readers of the play have a tendency to deem Oedipus a mere puppet controlled by larger forces. This is inaccurate. While it is a mythological truism that oracles exist to be fulfilled, oracles merely predict the future. Neither they nor Fate dictate the future. In his landmark article, “On Misunderstanding the Oedipus Rex,” E.R. Dodds draws a comparison with Jesus’ prophecy at the Last Supper that Peter would deny him three times that night. Jesus knows that Peter will do this – but he in no way forces him to do this. So it is with Oedipus. The oracle delivered to Oedipus is often called a “self-fulfilling prophecy” in that the prophecy itself sets in motion events that conclude with the oracle’s own fulfillment. But this is not to say that Oedipus is a victim of fate with no free will. The oracle inspires a series of specific choices freely made by Oedipus that lead to killing his father and marrying his mother. Oedipus chooses not to return to Corinth after hearing the oracle; he chooses to head toward Thebes; he chooses to kill Laius, who later turned out to be his father; he chooses to marry, and he further chooses Jocasta specifically as his bride; in response to the plague at Thebes, Oedipus chooses to send Creon to the Oracle for advice, and then chooses to follow that advice, initiating the investigation into Laius' murder. None of these choices were predetermined. Another characteristic of oracles in myth is that they are almost always misunderstood by those that hear them. Hence, Oedipus’ misunderstanding the significance of the Delphic Oracle. Oedipus visits Delphi to find out who his real parents are. He assumes that the Oracle refuses to answer that question, and instead offers an unrelated prophecy forecasting patricide and incest. Oedipus’ assumption is incorrect -- the Oracle does answer his question. Stated less elliptically, the answer to his question is, “Polybus and Merope are not your parents. You will one day kill a man, and he will turn out to be your true father; you will one day marry, and the woman you choose will be your real mother.”
The exploration of this theme in Oedipus the King is paralleled by the examination of the conflict between the individual and the state in Antigone. The dilemma Oedipus faces here is quite similar to that of the tyrannical Creon: each man has, as king, made a decision that his subjects question or disobey. Each king also misconstrues both his own role as a sovereign and the role of the rebel. When informed by the blind prophet Teiresias that religious forces are against him, each king claims that the priest has been bought off. However, it is here that their similarities end: while Creon, seeing the havoc he has wreaked, tries to fix his mistakes, Oedipus listens to no one. 
Sight and blindness
Literal and metaphorical references to eyesight appear throughout Oedipus the King. Clear vision serves as a metaphor for insight and knowledge, yet the clear-eyed Oedipus is blind to the truth about his origins and inadvertent crimes. The prophet Teiresias, on the other hand, though literally blind, “sees” the truth and relays what is revealed to him. Only after he has physically blinded himself so as not to look upon his children – the fruit of his accidental sin – does Oedipus gain a limited prophetic ability, as seen in Oedipus at Colonus