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WHAT IS THE CONFLICT IN OEDIPUS THE KING?EXPLANATIONS WITH QUOTES FROM THE STORY!!!

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lee725 | Student, College Freshman | eNotes Newbie

Posted March 27, 2010 at 9:37 AM via web

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WHAT IS THE CONFLICT IN OEDIPUS THE KING?

EXPLANATIONS WITH QUOTES FROM THE STORY!!!

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mstultz72 | High School Teacher | (Level 1) Educator Emeritus

Posted March 27, 2010 at 9:12 PM (Answer #1)

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Oedipus the King has all the major conflicts: man vs. man; man vs. nature; man vs. god(s); man vs. fate; and--most importantly--man vs. himself.

The play is a kind of trial, with Oedipus playing all the parts: he is a prosecutor, a defendant, a judge and jury.

Here are some quotes by Oedipus to support each conflict:

MAN V. GODS: "Well argued; but no living man can hope To force the gods to speak against their will."

MAN V. MAN: "Monster! thy silence would incense a flint. Will nothing loose thy tongue? Can nothing melt thee, Or shake thy dogged taciturnity?"

MAN V. NATURE: "What plague infects our city; and we turn To thee, O seer, our one defense and shield."

MAN V. FATE: "I reck not how Fate deals with me But my unhappy children--for my sons Be not concerned, O Creon, they are men, And for themselves, where'er they be, can fend."

MAN V. HIMSELF: "he monstrous offspring of a womb defiled, Co-mate of him who gendered me, and child. Was ever man before afflicted thus, Like Oedipus."

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pohnpei397 | College Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

Posted March 27, 2010 at 10:10 AM (Answer #2)

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There are different ways to answer this question.

You could say, for example, that the main conflict is between Teiresias and Oedipus.  In this interpretation, the conflict arises because the prophet says Oedipus is guilty of killing King Laius and Oedipus believes he is not guilty.

Others would say that the main conflict is between Oedipus and his fate.  In this interpretation, Oedipus is struggling to exert control of his own life.

Finally, some would say the main conflict is between Oedipus and himself.  These people would argue that Oedipus is having to fight against his own impulses and his own arrogance.

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akannan | Middle School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

Posted March 27, 2010 at 10:28 PM (Answer #3)

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I think that entire story is fraught with conflicts.  Indeed, as previously noted, the conflict between Oedipus' free will and the fated destiny that was laid for him represents one of the most foundational conflicts present.  Oedipus feels that he has to do battle with these forces, and challenge his fate through the use of his freedom.  Another level of conflict present is the one where Oedipus the person must be challenged by Oedipus the ruler.  When he has to find the source of the plague of Thebes, there is a conflict present.  On one hand, Oedipus the person could very well wish that the cause is not discovered, but Oedipus the leader has staked his entire political capital on finding the cause.  Finally, there is a conflict in Jocasta, who is the mother of what turns out to be her husband.  There is conflict there.

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