Explain how a limited amount of time is used to raise tension in the play Oedipus Rex, by Sophocles?

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Tamara K. H. eNotes educator| Certified Educator

All of the action in the play Oedipus Rex, by Sophocles, takes place on the same day, possibly even within a time span of a few hours.  The limited use of time serves to raise tension in the play because one dramatic revelation or event follows right after another.  The tension in the play begins when we learn that the city of Thebes is being destroyed by the gods by the city is, unbeknownst to them, harboring the murderer of the late King Laius.  The tension climaxes when we begin to learn that King Laius is Oedipus’s father, that Oedipus has, unbeknownst to himself, killed his own father and married his own mother.  The play resolves when both Oedipus and his wife Jocasta bring themselves to finally believe what has taken place in their fates, Jocasta hangs herself, and Oedipus requests to be led out of the city.   All of these revelations and events take place on the same day, and possibly within hours of each other, adding to the drama and tragedy of the play.