Oedipus the King
Oedipus the King
by Sophocles

Three-Act Plot Analysis

For a three-act plot analysis, put on your screenwriter’s hat. Moviemakers know the formula well: at the end of Act One, the main character is drawn in completely to a conflict. During Act Two, she is farthest away from her goals. At the end of Act Three, the story is resolved.

Act I

Oedipus, aware that there is a curse on Thebes, sends Creon for additional information. Oedipus is informed that to lift the curse, he must find and prosecute Laius’s murderer. He promises to fix things.

Act II

Oedipus questions Teiresias, a messenger, Jocasta, and a shepherd for information about Laius’s murder and his own birth. Gradually he begins to uncover the truth.

Act III

Jocasta and Oedipus both realize that they have committed incest and that Oedipus has murdered his father, Laius. Jocasta hangs herself and Oedipus gouges his eyes out and is exiled.

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