Updated: Jan 19, 2020
"What is the creature that walks on four legs in the morning two legs at noon and three in the evening?"
Before I go into the heroine’s journey (on the wheel) and non-linear structures (on the wheel), I would like to show you that the Intuitive screenwriting wheel works as an Intuitive (archetypal) storytelling wheel. This structure I am talking about is universal and can be used for creating any story, for film, theater or even novel. Whenever we have a main character that goes on a quest, we find a similar transformation of the psyche occurs, which we have already spoken about. Of course, in modern storytelling, we create different or broken and nonlinear, two or more main characters plotlines, but I’ll get to that later.
For now, let’s see how the Ana Lasic story template can serve us while breaking down the structure of Oedipus, the story of man, one of the greatest tragedies of all time, written by Sophocles around 429 B.C.
Argument: “While Thebes was under the rule of Laïus and Jocasta there appeared a strange and monstrous creature, "the riddling Sphinx," "the She-Wolf of the woven song," who in some unexplained way sang riddles of death and slew the people of Thebes. Laïus went to ask aid of the oracle of Delphi, but was slain mysteriously on the road. Soon afterwards there came to Thebes a young Prince of Corinth, Oedipus, who had left his home and was wandering. He faced the Sphinx and read her riddle, whereupon she flung herself from her rock and died. The throne being vacant was offered to Oedipus, and with it the hand of the Queen, Jocasta. Some ten or twelve years afterwards a pestilence has fallen on Thebes. At this point the play begins.”
1. Warrior →Fool (The exposition of a wound — ego) BATTLEFIELD
Pain caused by the wrong identity vs. all possible identities.
The city of Thebes is now devastated by “this plague of power.” King Oedipus is in despair. He sends his brother in law, Creon to the oracle at Delphi to ask “what task can save his city?”
“Up, O chief of men, and lift thy city from its grief.”
“And let thy kingdom be a land of men, Not emptiness. Walls, towers, and ships, they all are nothing with no men to keep the wall.”
Once again, we see that the ordinary world is a battlefield. It is the part of the story where the wounds just hurt so much that someone just has to do something about it.
This time, the wounds belong to everyone, and Oedipus, as just king (who is blind to his flaws), says that he is suffering the most. He also feels obligated to do whatever he can to save his people. So, just before the story starts, he sends Creon (his wife’s brother) to ask the Oracle what can be done.
Chorus prays: “Wounds beyond telling; my people sick unto death; And where is the counsellor, where is the sword of thought? And Holy Earth in her increase perisheth: The child dies and the mother awaketh not. I-ê! I-ê! We have seen them, one on another, gone as a bird is gone, Souls that are flame; yea, higher, Swifter they pass than fire, To the rocks of the dying Sun.”
2. Creator →Orphan (A ray of hope) HEART’S DESIRE
Hero’s heart and truth vs. non-authentic relationships and lies.
Creon is back with the message from the Oracle: “Find the murderer of Laius.”
Oedipus knows immediately that he was the one who has to discover the truth about what happened to the late king, whose throne and wife he inherited. He feels that the truth can set them all free, but at the same time, he is afraid that if he doesn’t address the problem, he might be the next target. He says: “this is now our ray of hope.”
“It falls on me then. I will search and clear This darkness. Well hath Phoebus done, and thou Too, to recall that dead king, even now, And with you for the right I also stand, To obey the God and succour this dear land. Nor is it as for one that touches me Far off; 'tis for mine own sake I must see This sin cast out. Whoe'er it was that slew Laïus, the same wild hand may seek me too: “
The chorus prays to the gods to help them in their despair.
3. Explorer →Magician (The hero decides to go on a quest) A BETTER LIFE IS POSSIBLE
Wrong belief vs. new vision.
“as I would for mine own father, choose for ill or good this quest.”
Oedipus is determined to find the murderer of Laius. At the point, he doesn’t know that the course he is putting against the murderer, is going against himself.
“I speak on him this curse: even as his soul Is foul within him let his days be foul,
“And life unfriended grind him till he die. More: if he ever tread my hearth and I Know it, be every curse upon my head That I have spoke this day. “
The Explorer/Magician stage, as we know, can also introduce a mentor into the story. Tiresias with his magic abilities plays the role of the mentor here, as he comes to tell Oedipus what only gods but no men can see. After Oedipus pushes him, he finally says: Oedipus is to be blamed.
“Thou seek'st this man of blood: Thyself art he.”
“Tiresias, the blinded seer, was both male and female: his eyes were closed to the broken forms of the light-world of the pairs of opposites, yet he saw in his own interior darkness the destiny of Oedipus.95”
Excerpt From: Joseph Campbell. “The Hero With a Thousand Faces.” iBooks.
4. Lover →Caregiver (Wish storyline) LOVE INTRODUCED
Love triggers fear (overprotectiveness).
Oedipus wants to protect his position as a king, but also his marriage with Jocasta – that’s why he attacks her brother Creon, as he thinks he is the one who is plotting against him. As the two men fight, Jocasta (Oedipus lover and caregiver at the same time) enters.
5. Sage →Destroyer (Healing is possible) REASONS BEHIND SUFFERING
Healing provokes self-destructiveness.
Jocasta tells the story from the past (reasons behind suffering):
“Come, I will tell an old tale. There came once an oracle To Laïus: I say not from the God Himself, but from the priests and seers who trod His sanctuary: if ever son were bred From him and me, by that son's hand, it said, Laïus must die. And he, the tale yet stays Among us, at the crossing of three ways Was slain by robbers, strangers. And my son—God's mercy!—scarcely the third day was gone When Laïus took, and by another's hand Out on the desert mountain, where the land Is rock, cast him to die. Through both his feet A blade of iron they drove. Thus did we cheat Apollo of his will. My child could slay No father”.
Jocasta claims that the prophecy is just not right, or if it was, its power was not so strong, as they managed to cheat the gods. But, Oedipus recognizes three roads from her story.
6. Ruler →Innocent (On the top of the false mountain) WISH FULFILLED
Controlling the outside world vs. the soul’s real purpose.
Oedipus recalls that long ago when he lived with his father Polybus, the Corinth king, his father organized a great feast. During this feast, a drunk told him he is not the son of his parents and so in horror, he left his home, only to learn from the prophecy that he is going to sleep with his mother and kill his father. As Oedipus feared that the prophecy might be true, he never returned home. One day as he was wandering around on a road, he met a group of men who wanted to push him out of the way. Oedipus was angry, so he killed them, one man survived.
And with that, Oedipus thought he took control of his life. He thought that he ran away from destiny, but that was false control, as the gods had their way of bringing him exactly back to the position where no man ever has any control.
7. Fool →Warrior (Need storyline) DOUBLE IDENTITY — FOOL AND GAMES UPSIDE DOWN (INSIDE OUT)
Right (new) and wrong (old) identity meet, the hero is fooled by fools- mirroring stage.
A stranger comes from Corinth to inform Oedipus about the death of his father Polybus.
“I come from Corinth.—And my tale, I trow, Will give thee joy, yet haply also pain.
What news can have that twofold power? Be plain. – asks Jocasta.
Two storylines, as well as two of Oedipus’s identities, meet here. Part of the prophecy (that he will kill his father) cannot be fulfilled, but Oedipus is still afraid that he might sleep with his mother. The old stranger reveals, Oedipus was not the son of his so-called parents, so whatever happens, he can’t sleep with ‘his mother’ – the prophecy is just not right.
Oedipus was therefore fooled to believe something that was not the truth. But how is that even possible and why did his “parents” accept him as their child?
The stranger reveals the truth, he found him as a baby and he brought him to Polybus and his wife who didn’t have any children, so they adopted him.
The prophecy can still be right and therefore fulfilled.
8. Orphan →Creator (Loneliness) PROBLEMS IN (CRISS-CROSS) RELATIONSHIPS
Fairness between relationships and the hero’s heart, freedom. Cheating.
The most revealing part is yet to come: both Oedipus’s feet were spiked. “I set thee free.” This is why he got his name: Oedipus, "Who-walks-in-pain.”
And the old stranger didn’t find him on his own, but another shepherd handed him over – that shepherd was: “I think they called him one of Laïus' men.”
In this part we can definitely get ‘lost’ in these criss-cross relationships. It also isn’t easy for Oedipus to understand what actually happened – who brought him to a man who brought him to his parents who were not his parents and why and who was cheating?
Jocasta has heard enough, so she leaves.
9. Magician →Explorer (Magic comes from the above) THE TRUTH IS KNOWN
Right belonging changes the hero’s belief structure.
An old servant from the court reveals that Jocasta herself gave him her baby to kill him (because of the prophecy that said that the child will kill his own father) but instead he saved him and gave him away. The truth is now known. The prophecy was right and it has been fulfilled.
Oedipus knows where he actually belongs, and whose son he was. What he believes in about everything now has to change.
“Enough! All, all, shall be fulfilled.... Oh, on these eyes Shed light no more, ye everlasting skies That know my sin! I have sinned in birth and breath. I have sinned with Woman. I have sinned with Death. “
10. Caregiver →Lover (Emotional breakdown) FINAL SEPARATION
Growing up. Vulnerability leads to love.
The chorus reflects upon this tragic revelation – it is an emotional breakdown:
“Nothingness, nothingness, Ye Children of Man, and less I count you, waking or dreaming! And none among mortals, none, Seeking to live, hath won More than to seem, and to cease”
But now, what man's story is such bitterness to speak? What life hath Delusion so visited, and Pain, And swiftness of Disaster? “
11. Destroyer →Sage (Death of an old belief, self) KILL OR HEAL (Change or die)
Facing the biggest enemy (fear) brings healing.
Jocasta kills herself. Oedipus blinds himself. There is nothing to be seen with old eyes anymore, and with this comes the change. The acceptance of horror is the acceptance of powerlessness. In the dark, eyes can see on the inside as Oedipus is destined to know the whole truth about himself.
His parents feard him and now he fears the gods.
He was torn between his parents (between love and fear) from the very beginning, condemned to be a sinner – never able to be stronger or better than the gods. Freedom is just an illusion, necessary for growth, but still an illusion. Men cannot cheat the gods, Oedipus couldn’t do it, his parents couldn’t do it and whoever plans to try must know: either he is ‘blind’ (lying to himself) or he’ll end up blind (seeing the truth).
12. Innocent →Ruler (Ascension to a new world) LIVE AND SHARE
Controlling the inner world, compassion is the right way to rule and influence.
Compassionate Creon who feels sorry for Oedipus, as it is impossible to feel any other way, wants to ask God what to do with him. First, he brings his children to Oedipus so that he can share with them his last words of sorrow. Oedipus despises himself, so he is forever grateful that he is still treated as a human. Now he wants to be ‘casted from the land.’ With his departure, he ends the plague.
“The last of sights, the last of days; and no man's life account as gain Ere the full tale be finished and the darkness find him without pain.”