Three Act Structure in Oedipus Rex
Lesson Plan Reference
Grade Level 9-10
Difficulty Level 2 (Reinforcing / Developing)
Type of Assignment Individual or Group
Type of Activity: Plot Diagrams and Narrative ArcsCommon Core Standards
- [ELA-Literacy/RL/9-10/2] Determine a theme or central idea of a text and analyze in detail its development over the course of the text, including how it emerges and is shaped and refined by specific details; provide an objective summary of the text
- [ELA-Literacy/RL/9-10/3] Analyze how complex characters (e.g., those with multiple or conflicting motivations) develop over the course of a text, interact with other characters, and advance the plot or develop the theme
- [ELA-Literacy/RL/9-10/5] Analyze how an author’s choices concerning how to structure a text, order events within it (e.g., parallel plots), and manipulate time (e.g., pacing, flashbacks) create such effects as mystery, tension, or surprise
Students can create and show a storyboard that captures the concept of a Five or Three Act Structure by creating either a three or six-cell storyboard which contains the major parts of the diagram.
Aristotle’s Three Act Structure
Aristotle believed that every piece of poetry or drama must have a beginning, middle and end. These divisions were developed by the Roman, Aelius Donatus, and called protasis, epitasis, and catastrophe. The three act structure has seen a revival in recent years, as cinema blockbusters and hit TV shows have adopted it. The beginning (protasis) consists of setup, the middle (epitasis) contains conflicts, thwarted protagonist, or complications, and the end (catastrophe) is where fortunes are reversed and the protagonist meets their fate.
Example Oedipus Rex Three Act Structure
A terrible plague is upon Thebes and Oedipus sends Creon to oracle at Delphi to get answers. He finds out that they only way to lift the curse is by expelling the former king's murderer.
Wanting to hear the prophecy for himself Oedipus summons the blind prophet, Tiresias, who declares Oedipus himself is the killer. In disbelief, he goes home to question his wife, a messenger, and others to uncover the truth.
In despair Jocasta and Oedipus both realize that the prophecy is true. Jocasta is, in fact, Oedipus's mother, and he has murdered his father, Laius, long ago. After this realization, Jocasta hangs herself and Oedipus stabs his own eyes out. He leaves Creon in control of Thebes and exiles himself.