Essay Topics On Oedipus Rex

  • 1

    Oedipus remains in the dark. Do you agree?

    This question asks you to consider the importance of dark and light, and therefore perhaps also sight, in the play. Think metaphorically (i.e. 'in the dark' - unknowing) but also literally (Oedipus' blinding at the end of the play).

  • 2

    Oedipus is old before his time. Do you agree?

    This question asks you to consider question of youth and age in Oedipus - though the action of the play happens in a single day, how might Oedipus be considered old? You might also want to think about fathers and children and the impact generation has on age.

  • 3

    This play happens backward. Do you agree?

    This question asks you to consider the structure of the play. Look at the section on 'Myth' and consider the way Sophocles alters the story to turn it into a drama. What does Oedipus know at the start of the play? What does he know at the end? What events actually occur during the play - or have all the events happened before it begins?

  • 4

    How might a consideration of the conditions of Greek theatrical performance impact upon our understanding of Oedipus Rex?

    This question asks you to consider the importance of the Greek theatrical conventions (particularly masks) that would have originally been employed when Oedipus was performed. Think practically - there were no electric lights, no recorded music, and perhaps even no props. How might this change your interpretation of the play? (See 'About Greek Theater' for more information).

  • 5

    Is Oedipus Rex a private or a public play?

    This question asks you to consider the relationship between public and private (or between oikos/polis) in the play. What is the outcome for Thebes? What is the outcome for Oedipus? Is Oedipus to be considered as a father/son/brother or simply as the king of Thebes?

  • 6

    Might Oedipus be more than one man?

    This question asks you to consider the play's central inconsistency as potentially one of its themes. The Thebans have heard that Laius was killed by more than one man; in fact, Oedipus alone committed the murder. Think of Oedipus' various roles in the play - king/brother/father/son - and consider whether the conflict of the play might be a conflict between the one and the many.

  • 7

    Do you agree that Oedipus' tragedy happens because of a 'tragic flaw'?

    This question asks you to consider that Oedipus' tragedy happens because of a tragic flaw - an opinion that many critics would strongly disagree with. Why do the events of the play happen? Whose fault is it - if anyone's? See Oedipus and Aristotle for more information about the idea of tragic flaws.

  • 8

    "The old seer had eyes" (Oedipus the King, 748). Discuss ideas of sight and blindness in the play.

    As well as thinking literally about blindness in Oedipus (Teiresias, in particular) consider the relationship between knowledge and sight. Does Oedipus have any insight into things - can he, perhaps, see better without his eyes?

  • 9

    "I stumbled when I saw" (Gloucester, in Shakespeare's King Lear). Compare Oedipus Rex to any other play of your choice.

    This question invites you to compare Oedipus to any other play. You might want to think about themes, about characters, or what you consider to be the ultimate lesson of the play - just remember to keep comparing: write about both plays at once, not one and then the other. See Useful Comparison Points for some good ideas.

  • 10

    How does Oedipus come to embody the riddle of the Sphinx?

    This question requires you to make a connection between the Sphinx riddle's answer - 'man' - and Oedipus' fate. Oedipus, as a consequence of seeking the answer to his kingdom's plague, manages to go through the three stages of the Sphinx's riddle. He is the baby with pierced ankles, crawling on four feet to escape a messenger who would kill him. Then he is the proud adult, king of Thebes, walking on two feet. And finally he is the old, blinded man, walking with a cane, cast out of his own kingdom.

  • Oedipus Essay Examples

    The Oedipus Cycle

    Sophocles presents us with two men in the Oedipus Cycle, Oedipus, and his uncle Creon. Both are rulers of Thebes and share in their similarities as kings, fathers, and deservers of their fate; yet their similarities are few, while their differences number. Although Oedipus and Creon share these similarities: political, familial and religious (that is… View Article

    The affects of secrets as seen in Ghost

    Secrets are usually told to hide the truth. Every secret told in both Ghost by Henrik Ibsen and Oedipus the King by Sophocles lead to more yet larger secrets. In Ghost and in Oedipus the King, secrets and society invaded personal lives causing the destruction of reputation and morals. There were many secrets in Ghost… View Article

    Rooted as it is in the fabric of social life

    Have you found that the plays you have read vary from each other in the degree to which they present criticism of society? Consider the concerns of two or three authors in your answer. Anouilh’s “Antigone” and Aristotle’s “King Oedipus” both present varying degrees of social criticism. In ‘Antigone’, the role of the guards project… View Article

    The tragic Hero

    Oedipus, the classic Greek tragedy by Sophocles, is one in which the protagonist is portrayed as a tragic hero. The author does this by combining the elements of irony, personal tragedy and heroism. In the play, Oedipus’s character evokes pity because of his misfortune appears to be greater than he deserves hence the reader is… View Article

    In Oedipus the king

    Fate is an unavoidable part of a person’s life that may control who we are, what we do and what will happen to us. So, regardless of human actions and regardless of emotions and wishes, fate upon each humans being will occur. Fate can be undeserving and cruel, awesome and unchangeable, so much so that… View Article

    In Milton’s paradise lost

    Aristotle’s tragic hero has certain characteristics which can be applied to Oedipus the King and Milton’s Satan. Aristotle states that a tragic hero can be classified as a person that falls from the state of being happy to one of misery because of his own mistake. This can be seen in both Oedipus and Satan,… View Article

    What caused the downfall of Oedipus?

    The issues connected with religious roles and the roles of gods were relevant during the fifth century among Athenians. Along with development of humanism, a lot of people, especially those, who occupied high positions in Athens, started to consider themselves independent from the gods and their will. The controversy whether the lives of humans depend… View Article

    Oedipus Rex

    I believe the main point Sophocles was trying to convey in the story “Oedipus Rex” was that you have to be accountable for your actions. He shows this by the use of dramatic, situational, and many more different kinds of irony. Sophocles also uses foreshadowing to show how Oedipus needs to be accountable for his… View Article

    Oedipus the King

    In Sophocles’ Oedipus the King, the themes of fate and free will are very strong throughout the play. Only one, however, brought about Oedipus’ downfall and death. Both points could be argued to great effect. In ancient Greece, fate was considered to be a rudimentary part of daily life. Every aspect of life depended and… View Article

    Fate Vs. Free Will Antigone

    Antigone, the play, fuels the debate whether fate is stronger than one’s free will. Antigone’s fate was to die fighting for respect of her family. At first, Antigone’s fate was to live, but her free will let her to choose to disobey Creon’s law about burying her brother. When she made the choice to go… View Article

    Fate vs Free Will in Oedipus

    In Oedipus the King by Sophocles, Oedipus is responsible for the tragedy of his downfall. Fate and free will are two opposing ideas that Sophocles seamlessly blends into the play. Sophocles ultimately leaves it up to the audience to interpret the reality behind this argument. Oedipus is presented with a series of choices throughout the… View Article


    SOME twelve years before the action of the play begins, Oedipus has been made King of Thebes in gratitude for his freeing the people from the pestilence brought on them by the presence of the riddling Sphinx. Since Laius, the former king, had shortly before been killed, Oedipus has been further honored by the hand… View Article

    Oedipus Rex (Oedipus the King)

    Sophocles tells perhaps the most tragic of all tales pertaining to great families in Greece. The play is divided into three parts, namely: Oedipus the King, Oedipus at Colossus, and Antigone. The plays focus on how one family experiences seemingly endless, tragic circumstances leading them to despair and anguish. There are a handful of strong… View Article

    A Remake Play of Oedipus

    Oedipus Rex has always been one of the most intriguing and interesting plays that William Shakespeare has ever written. By combining a tragic with complex plots, the legendary playwright was able to establish himself as a classic poet known for psychological tragedies. A modern version of Shakespeare’s plays always produces an equally intriguing curiosity from… View Article

    The story Oedipus the King

    The story Oedipus the King has been known for its tragedy. Sophocles gave us a hero in the character of Oedipus who shows a greatness and strength of a man in body and mind. He is the main character in the story who undertakes a fight with faith and destiny. Oedipus was born to the… View Article

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