A character in a story is only as important as the obstacles he or she has to overcome. Good conflicts give a character weight and make them more dynamic, evoking all types of emotions on the people reading these characters' experiences. Conflict is an essential part of any story, and more so in a tragic play such as Oedipus Rex. The main characterOedipus, after whom the play is named, is defined and remembered by all of the troubles that plagued his poor existence. The many conflicts that pester the protagonist range from internal conflicts to involvement with the gods. Oedipus surely did not do anything to deserve the life that the gods had chosen for him. As Jennifer Lewin states, “Ultimately, while we can regard Oedipus as both admirablefor his leadership skills and noble intentions and imperfect for his overconfidence and harsh treatment of others, he is a figure whose fate inspires pity and terror because of his ability to endure misfortune” (Drama for Students).
Fate is a cruel thing and Oedipus is its hapless victim. From the moment of his birth, Oedipus is destined by the gods, in the form of a prophecy, tokill his father and wed his mother, “[The god] spoke of other things...that I should lie with my own mother...and that I should be my father's murderer.”(scene 2 line 263-67). This type of conflict, man vs. supernatural, is defined by how Oedipus tries to escape the horrible fate chosen by the gods who in this case, fill the role of the supernatural. Oedipus flees from Corinth, the city where hebelieved his true parents lay which no doubt was a fatal mistake. Shortly after, Oedipus unknowingly kills his father and marries his mother, still falling prey to the gods' whims. Try as he must, Oedipus could just not go against what the gods had planned for him and towards the end of the play, the news that the prophecy had indeed been fulfilled absolutely devastates him.
Some ofthe conflicts surrounding Oedipus are also related with his fellow man. On more than one occasion, Oedipus encounters friction with fellow “Thebians”. These type of conflicts are denominated as man vs. man. An example of this is the strife he has with Teiresias, the soothsayer, “ You sightless, witless, senseless, mad old man.” (scene 1 line 154) The soothsayer is reproached so heatedly byOedipus because he claims that the king was in fact Laois' murderer. As proof, Teiresias addresses Oedipus, “I say that you are the murderer whom you seek.” (scene 1 line143) The ignorant king is not able to accept the truth that Teiresias speaks and therefore assumes that Creon is the culprit behind the soothsayer's words, as Oedipus at one point states, “Creon desires in secret to destroy me!” (scene1 line 169). Oedipus' suspicion of his brother-in-law is simply based on the fact that he had been the one who had recommended sending for Teiresias to aid in the investigation. It is quite easy to notice how fervently Oedipus doesn't even want to consider Teiresias' words as true so he tries to divert all the blame on one of his closest friends, as Creon demonstrates, “But did you not hear[Oedipus] say I was the one who seduced the old prophet into lying?” (scene 2 line 14-15). This at the end of the play makes Oedipus' downfall all the more shameful because he had been wrong in insulting the truthful soothsayer and in accusing the innocent Creon.
Lastly, our tragic hero was also plagued with troubles within his heart. Denominated as man vs. himself, Oeodipus' alsosuffered from an internal conflict. This conflict is caused the search for the true identity of his parents. This inner strife manifests itself once he starts to doubt that his parents from Corinth aren't his real parents, “My parents again!- Wait: who were my parents?” (scene 1 line 221) In addition, Oedipus at one point in the play comments, “How strange a shadowy memory crossed my mind, just now...