Study Guide

Oedipus at Colonus Booker's Seven Basic Plots Analysis

By Sophocles

Booker's Seven Basic Plots Analysis

Anticipation Stage

Oedipus, freshly kicked out of his home after finding out he accidentally killed his father and married his mother, wanders into Athens to look for the place that the god Apollo prophesied he would finally find a resting place. His daughter, Antigone, guides him to what she can tell is a sacred grove, and they ask a stranger to bring the king of Athens to talk to them.

Dream Stage

Oedipus meets the king of Athens, Theseus, and they totally hit it off. Oedipus promises Theseus that his body will be like a good luck charm for Athens if he’s buried there. This is especially important because everyone and their dog has been chasing Oedipus out of their land; he’s got a special knack for bringing down divine curses, so we can’t really blame them.

Frustration Stage

Creon, Oedipus’ brother-in-law, shows up and tries to get Oedipus to come back to Thebes. He wants to bury old Oedipus (after he dies) near the border where he can make sure the tomb is safe, to avoid curses from the gods, but also not in Thebes proper, which could also be bad luck. In case you can’t tell, Creon is kind of a jerk.

Nightmare Stage

When Oedipus refuses to accompany Creon, Creon retaliates by kidnapping Oedipus’ daughters. This is extra mean because they’re the only people left on the planet that take care of poor, old Oedipus. Antigone is his guide, as he can’t see. Oedipus is left alone, blind, and terrified. He begs Theseus to help him.

Destruction or death wish Stage

Theseus sends his soldiers after the girls and gives Creon a severe scolding. After Theseus’ forces recover the girls, Oedipus shuffles off to a secret location, where the earth swallows him up. The gravesite is unknown to everyone except Theseus, and Oedipus has promised him that it will be a source of power for him and Athens as a thank-you present for protecting him in his final hours. Maybe the good people of Athens could use some help finding that magical spot in the ground once more, because things haven't being going so smoothly over there these days.