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In a sense, the most acute moment of suffering in Sophocles' Oedipus Rex occurs offstage. In the story, there is surprising little plot action seen on stage. The action of the drama is actually revelation of the true nature of acts that have been committed before the action of the play began; the plague merely is the occasion of the quest for knowledge of the past. At the final moment of recognition, when Oedipus discovers beyond doubt that he is actually the son of Jocasta, we have the climax of the play. The actual suicide of Jocasta and blinding of Oedipus, the acts which most evoke fear and pity, occur offstage. In the denouement, Oedipus says he wished the shepherd had not saved him because:
For if I had died then,
I would not have brought
so much pain to my friends or me!
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