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Conflict refers to incompatibility of ideas or objectives of two or more characters or events within a piece of literature. In the play Oedipus the King, Sophocles presents several conflicts through the tragedy that happened to Oedipus the king of Thebes.
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Oedipus represents the main conflict in the play. From his birth, Oedipus is destined to kill his father and marry his mother. However, Oedipus lives in denial making this a “man against self” type of conflict. Oedipus also refuses to believe that he is the cause of the misfortunes that would befall Thebes. Even after fulfilling Oracle’s prophesies, Oedipus does not believe. This is a major conflict because it creates the required anxiety and disposition that characterize the play. Initially Oedipus is portrayed as a hero while he attempt to annihilate would-be the murderers of his father. Despite these efforts, his own fault contributes to his own tragic downfall. This aspect creates the required level of curiosity among readers. Moreover, the conflict constitutes the main mystery in the play. Ideally, the audience would be interested in knowing whether Oedipus fulfilled his part in the prophecy or not. Alternatively, the conflict is the basis of other subsidiary conflicts, hence the main conflict.
Other conflicts presented in the play include Oedipus desire to do right. Upon hearing the rumor, Oedipus leaves Corinth to avoid doing harm to his parents (Polybus and Merope) (Sophocles 37). On the road to Thebes, Oedipus is involved in a conflict with his biological father (Laius). This conflicts leads to Laius death and the misfortunes that followed Oedipus. This portrays Oedipus desire to do right in spite of his misfortunes. Oedipus was also a religious man and a firm believer of superstitions. Despite his attempt to exercise justice to the murderers of his father, Oedipus does not recognize the boundary between fate and free will. He believed that even though gods gave people the ability to make choices, they are bound by a predetermined outcome.
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