In the prologue of Oedipus Rex, Oedipus learns of Apollo’s latest prophecy. Apollo commanded that the people of Thebes were to take revenge upon the murderer of Laios. Oedipus agreed with Apollo, not knowing at the time that he was the person whom Apollo reffered to, for fear that the same killer would soon come after him. Scene one. Oedipus summons Teiresias, a blind seer of Apollo, to possibly help him in his search for Laios’ murderer. Teresias comes straight out to Oedipus and tells him that the man Oedipus seeks is himself, Oedipus.
Of course, such an accusation seemed completely ludicrous, so Oedipus was quick to assume Kreon influenced Teiresias to tell Oedipus this, in an attempt to follow through with some plan against Oedipus to at last have the throne. As Oedipus goes about his theory, Teiresias indirectly states that in time Oedipus will see that Teiresias’ skills as a blind seer shall not be tested, as he speaks the truth, and only with time will Oedipus realize this. In my opinion, Sophocles achieved what he desired with plot in the first scene.
Sophocles figured f the killer was to be announced this early in the play that the reader would not believe it must be true. After all, were would the suspense be in telling who the killer is in the beginnning. But what some may overlook is that Oedipus Rex is not commercial fiction, it is literary fiction, and suspense in literary fiction doesn’t have to be who killed who, with what, and why. It could be, instead, how a person has killed this person, and how the knowledge of the events unfold, and what actions will be taken to ensure justice. Scene two.
This scene starts off with Oedipus and Kreon bickering mongst themselves and accusing one another of killing Laios. Iokaste tells them both to stop because the land of Thebes does not need two of the most powerful and important people in it not seeing eye to eye. Thebes is sick with of prophecy and search for Laios’ killer.. Everyone needs to unite to fulfill the prophecy, not fight. After this, Iokaste tells Oedipus all of her knowledge of the death of Laios. Upon hearing her description of the time, place, and company of Laios’ death, Oedipus realizes that Teiresias might have spoken the truth in saying he was Laios’ urderer.
There was only one slight problem with Iokaste’s story that didn’t match with Oedipus’ encounter with the possible Laios. If the servant, who was the only survivor of the attack on Laios, says his group was attacked by highway men, then Oedipus is free of all accusations, since he attacked a group of people by himself, not with highway men. I believe Sophocles made the servant’s story originally saying he was attacked by highway men just to throw off the reader. I mean there is always that slight chance this is all one big mistake, and that Iokaste’s and Oedipus’ tories being so similar are a coincidence.
The reader may believe this is all a major coincidence in hope that this play will have a happy ending, one in which Oedipus does not have to be charged with Laios’ death. Scene three. A messenger is sent from Corinth to notify Oedipus that he is being called to reign as Corinth’s king, since his father and their kind has passed away. The only problem with this is Oedipus was prophesized to kill his father, who Oedipus was hoping was King Polybos of Corinth. King Polybos died of an illness, not by Oedipus, which means
Polybos wasn’t Oedipus’ father, which is making Laios more and more likely to be Oedipus’ father. Which would mean that Oedipus did in fact fulfill his prophecy and kill King Laios. Iokaste realizes all of this, but does not want Oedipus to know any of it. She fears for his life if he learns the truth and gave Oedipus a fatal warning. Of course, though, Oedipus is stubborn and summons a shepherd that handled him as a baby. If the shepherd handed Oedipus over as a gift to Polybos when Oedipus was to be killed, then the prophecy was fulfilled. Oedipus did kill his father, Laios.
Sophocles had to throw in the death of King Polybos to further conclude that Oedipus was not the son of Polybos. With this knowledge, Oedipus is realizing he must have been the son of Laios. Scene four. The shepherd and Oedipus meet. Oedipus simply questioned the shepherd about whether or not he gave Oedipus to the messenger which was given to King Polybos. The shepherd was very reluctant to answer. But finally the truth was revealed. The shepherd did hand Oedipus over. When Oedipus learned of this, he had no reason but to elieve he was Laios’ son, and that the prophecies had been fulfilled.
Exodos. This scene starts off with the Iokaste committing suicide. She could not handle the truth anymore. Iokastes’ death was so drastic that Oedipus took away his sight so he would not have to see her, or anyone else he has hurt in his life of lies. Along with losing sight, however, he was able to see truth. The truth that he was blind to when he actually had sight. This all goes back to when Teiresias said Oedipus would see truth with time. Oedipus then decided it would be more of a punishment to leave elf- exiled, instead of dying, to have the rest of his life to see all the pain he has caused.
Oedipus also apologizes to Kreon and begs for forgiveness in exchange to see his daughters/ sisters one last time. So in the end, it was not the happy ending a reader might have hoped for. It was, however, a happy ending in a different sense. Oedipus can finally live a life of truth, and is free from all the lies. Oedipus now can see what was unseen, and knows what was unknown. The only problem with that, though, is he is kind of late in seeing this. He is condemned from Thebes and is blind.