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The Conflict, Climax and Resolution in Oedipus Rex

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 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 builds – an inner conflict within the protagonist which involves his own mastery or hubris – and humility or modesty before the the gods.Thomas Van Nortwick in The Meaning of a Masculine Life describes Oedipus’ tragic flaw:

As ruler, he is a father to Thebes and its citizens, and like a father he will take care of his “children.” We see already the supreme self-confidence and ease of command in Oedipus, who can address not only other people’s children as his own, but also be a father to men older than he is. But beyond even this there is, in the sretched posture of the citizens, the hint of prostration before a deity. We are “clinging to your altars,” says the prie…

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…homas Woodard. Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice-Hall, Inc., 1966.

Ehrenberg, Victor. “Sophoclean Rulers: Oedipus.” In Twentieth Century Interpretations of Oedipus Rex, edited by Michael J. O’Brien. 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.

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

Description, Visual and Auditory Clues, and Imagery in A Clean, Well-Lighted Place, By Hemingway

Description, Visual and Auditory Clues, and Imagery in A Clean, Well-Lighted Place

“Each night I am reluctant to close up because there may be some one who needs the café (251).” The waiter who speaks these words, in a Clean Well-Lighted Place by Ernest Hemingway, realizes that his café is more than just a place to eat and drink. The main character of this story is an elderly, deaf man who spends every evening at the same café until it closes. Setting is used to help the reader understand the old man’s loneliness and the comfort he receives from the café. Hemingway uses direct description, visual and auditory clues, and sense imagery to establish the setting and to develop this understanding.

Hemingway uses direct description at the very beginning of the story to establish the setting of the story for the reader. “It was late and everyone had left the café except an old man who sat in the shadow the leaves of the tree made against the electric light. In the day time the street was dusty, but at night the dew settled the dust…(249).” This conveys a sense of solitude and peace which surrounds the old man. More importantly, this description gives the reader a feeling for the loneliness which has engulfed the old man. The use of shadows and light, along with solitude, gives the sense of loneliness.

The visual and auditory clues the author uses are necessary in understanding why the old man continues to return to the café each night. “Turning off the electric light he continued the conversation with himself. It is the light of course but it is necessary that the place be clean and pleasant. You do not want music. Certainly you do not want music (251).” It is important that the café be well-lighted to counteract the old man’s dark and lonely life. In addition, music would only be a distraction from his thoughts and a disruption of the solitude which quiet brings.

Finally, through Hemingway’s use of sense imagery, the reader is able to understand why the old man visits the café at night. “…the old man liked to sit late because he was deaf and now at night it was quiet and he felt the difference (249).” Evening brings a sense of serenity to the old man. The day time distractions, even for a deaf man, are replaced by evening solitude.

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