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Oedipus Rex – Conflict, Climax, Resolution

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. new?tag=public

Self-destructive Self-expression in The Yellow Wallpaper

Self-destructive Self-expression in The Yellow Wallpaper

In “The Yellow Wallpaper”, a story by Charlotte Perkins Gilman, the conflict centers around the protagonist’s inability to maintain her sanity in a society that does not recognize her as an individual. Her husband and brother both exert their own will over hers, forcing her to conform to their pre-set impression an appropriate code of behavior for a sick woman. She has been given a “schedule prescription for each hour in the day; [John] takes all care from me” (155). This code of behavior involves virtually no exertion of her own free-will. Rather, she is expected to passively accept the fact that her own ideas are mere fancy, and only the opinions of the men in her life can be trusted. She is expected to take their own uninformed opinions on her mental state over her own. While “Wallpaper” presents a powerful argument in favor of the feminist movement, the true issue behind the conflict is even more fundamental: the resiliency of human will in the face of social negation.

Obviously, it is impossible to maintain a healthy mental state in the oppressive environment surrounding the woman. Throughout the story, the author traces the woman’s mental deterioration from a having a normal but weakened sense of self, to a complete inversion of her ego. She slowly inverts her orientation of her place in society, turning away from society completely in order to create a world where she can act on her own volition. In order to represent the stages of her gradually worsening state of mind, the author represents the woman’s struggles through a parallel with her view of the wallpaper. The wallpaper is at first a seeming inversion of the woman’s mind, but it is gradu…

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…leasantville: Reader’s Digest, 1977. 195-206.

Golden, Catherine, ed. The Captive Imagination: A Casebook on “The Yellow Wallpaper.” New York: Feminist Press, 1992

Kasmer, Lisa. “Charlotte Perkins Gilman’s ‘The Yellow Wallpaper’: A Symptomatic Reading.” Literature and Psychology. 36, (1990): 1-15.

Kessler, Carol Parley. “Charlotte Perkins Gilman 1860 -1935.” Modem American Women Writers. Ed. Elaine Showalter, et al. New York: Charles Scribner’s Sons, 1991. 155 -169.

Owens, E. Suzanne. “The Ghostly Double behind the Wallpaper in Charlotte Perkins Gilman’s ‘The Yellow Wallpaper.’”

Scharnhorst, Gary. “Gilman.” Reference Guide to Short Fiction. Ed. Noelle Watson. Detroit: St. James Press, 1994. 209-210.

Wagner-Martin, Linda. “The Yellow Wallpaper.” Reference Guide to Short Fiction. Ed. Noelle Watson. Detroit: St. James Press, 1994. 981- 982.

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