1 Malat

Oedipus The King Summary Essay Examples

Oedipus the King Summary & Study Guide includes comprehensive information and analysis to help you understand the book. This study guide contains the following sections:

This detailed literature summary also contains Bibliography and a Free Quiz on Oedipus the King by Sophocles.

Sophocles's Oedipus Rex is probably the most famous tragedy ever written. It is known by a variety of title (the most common being Oedipus Rex), including Oedipus the King and Oedipus Tyrannus. Sophocles, first produced the play in Athens around 430 B.C. at the Great Dionysia, a religious and cultural festival held in honor of the god Dionysus, where it won second prize. In the play Oedipus, King of Thebes, upon hearing that his city is being ravaged by fire and plague, sends his brother-in-law Creon to find a remedy from the Oracle of Apollo at Delphi. When Creon returns Oedipus begins investigating the death of his predecessor, Laius, and discovers through various means that he himself was the one who had unknowingly killed Laius and then married his own mother, Jocasta. Jocasta commits suicide, Oedipus blinds himself, takes leave of his children, and is led away. Aristotle praises the play in his Poetics for having an exemplary, well- constructed plot, one which is capable of inspiring fear and pity not only in its audience but especially in those who have merely heard of the story. Following Aristotle's appraisal, many prominent authors including Voltaire, Fredench Nietzsche, and Sidmund Freud reacted at length to the play's themes of incest and patricide. In the twentieth century, the most influential of these thinkers, Freud, showed that Oedipus's fate is that of every man; the "Oedipus Complex" is the definitive parent-child relationship. Throughout history, writers have drawn upon the myth of Oedipus, and dramatists, composers, and poets, including Pierre Corneille, Frednch von Schiller, Heinrich von Kleist, William Butler Yeats, Ezra Pound, Igor Stravinsky, and Jean Cocteau, have both written on, translated, and staged the tragedy; contemporary filmmakers such as Pier Paolo Pasolini and Woody Allen have directed self-consciously autobiographical versions of Oedipus Rex,

Read more from the Study Guide

Oedipus, The King Summary

  • Length: 545 words (1.6 double-spaced pages)
  • Rating: Excellent
Open Document

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - More ↓
Sophocles’ Oedipus, the King is a great representation of Greek tragedy and of the human experience. Within it, he explores the intricacies of human thinking and communication along with its ability to change as more information and knowledge is acquired. His primary focus as the story begins and progresses is the growth of Oedipus from an unintelligible and unenlightened mentality to its antithesis.

Because the story was one familiar to most of its viewers in its time, there are certain things that they are expected to already know. Among them is the background to the legend. Most generally it was that it was prophesied that Laios and Jocasta, king and queen of Thebes, would give birth to a child who would grow up to murder his father and marry his mother. And, fearing the dreadful prophecy, that the parents nailed their first son's feet together (thus the name Oedipus, which means “swollen-foot”) and left him to die on a lonely moun-tainside outside the city. Moreover, that he was found by a wandering shepherd who took him to the nearby city of Corinth where he was adopted by the childless King Polybos and Queen Merope who raised him as a son and prince in the royal household. Then, when he was a young adult and first heard the prophecy, that he assumed that it applied to Polybos and Merope, the only parents he had ever known, and had fled Corinth and wandered around Greece where he met a group of travelers and killed an old man who, unknown to him, was his real father, King Laios. Then, when he arrived at Thebes, he met the Sphinx, a monster who guarded the gates of the city and correctly answered its riddle and was rewarded with the title of king of Thebes and was given the hand of the re-cently widowed queen, Jocasta. The true horror in his life begins here because he has four children with her, An-tigone, Ismene, Eteocles, and Polyneices and fulfills the prophecy.

The story begins after some time after Oedipus has taken the throne and when there is a mysterious plague that sweeps the city. Here, he learns from the priest that the sacred oracle says that the plague will be re-moved only when Laios' murderer is discovered. Consequently, he sends Creon, his brother-in-law, to Delphi to consult the oracles and find out the identity of the murderer.

How to Cite this Page

MLA Citation:
"Oedipus, The King Summary." 123HelpMe.com. 10 Mar 2018
    <http://www.123HelpMe.com/view.asp?id=79769>.

LengthColor Rating 
Summary of Oedipus The Kings by Sophocles Essay - Summary of Oedipus The Kings by Sophocles Oedipus is in a series of tragic events throughout this play. A couple of days after Oedipus was born, he was left on a mountainside to die. The reason for this is because an oracle predicted that he will grow up to be the murderer of his father the King. Oedipus did not die as he should have, instead Oedipus was found and taken to the nearby city of Corinth. This is where Oedipus was adopted as the son of the King and Queen. Many years later, Oedipus seeks counsel from the same oracle that predicted his fate....   [tags: Greek Tragedy, Oedipus, Sophocles]750 words
(2.1 pages)
Better Essays[preview]
Oedipus the King Essay - Oedipus the King Oedipus the King is the perfect example of a tragedy. It contains a complete combination of all the features of a tragedy. Aristotle in his Poetics[1] defines Oedipus as being 'a definite example of the form and purpose of tragedy'. In tragedies the Greeks dramatized climactic events in the lives of heroes, and Oedipus' story is no exception. By using many different literary devices it brings moral dilemmas of action and motive to the public stage. The action is set out over the timeframe of one day, which will according to the prophet Tiresias will bring Oedipus' 'birth' and 'destruction'....   [tags: Classics Oedipus King Essays]
:: 1 Works Cited
1174 words
(3.4 pages)
Strong Essays[preview]
Destiny, Fate, Free Will and Free Choice in Oedipus the King - Free Will or Fate? - Fate in Oedipus Rex Do you think that fate controls the lives of everyday people, or do you think someone's actions control their lives?  In the play, Oedipus Rex, fate played an important role in the lives of the characters. .  In order to avoid their predestined fate, the main characters took every precaution to avoid their predetermined destinies.  The queen, Iocasta, and her son, Oedipus, both tried to escape what Teriresias, the oracle, told them, however, it would eventually come back to haunt them.  [Fate controlled the lives of the characters in this play...] NEW THESIS             When queen Iocasta found that she and king Laius were to have child, she went to consult an oracl...   [tags: Oedipus the King Oedipus Rex]752 words
(2.1 pages)
Strong Essays[preview]
Oedipus Rex – a Christ Figure Essay - Oedipus Rex – a Christ Figure               Sophocles’ famous tragedy, Oedipus Rex, perhaps “the most important and influential drama ever written” (“Sophocles” 717), presents in the person of  Oedipus the model of a good ruler, a humanely intelligent and vigorously active leader, a man who earlier saved his adopted city Thebes from disaster. Is Oedipus an alter Christus besides.   The numerous parallels between the figure of the king Oedipus and the figure of Christ in the Scriptures prompts the reader to ask the above question....   [tags: Oedipus the King Oedipus Rex]
:: 3 Works Cited
1014 words
(2.9 pages)
Strong Essays[preview]
Oedipus the King: A Classical Tragedy Essay - Oedipus the King as a Classical Tragedy Aristotle, in his work 'The Poetics', tried to define the tragedy. Aristotle said that the hero, or at least the main character in a tragedy must be essentially good, but must bring upon himself his fall, due to a fatal flaw. Were the character not noble, many reason, an audience would not care about the person, and would not really notice his fall - from the street to the gutter is not a long way. In today's society this, of course, has been shown not to be true.  Modern playwrights have proven that an audience certainly can care about less prolific heroes, but in classical literature this rule stands, and all heroes of tragedy were noble, and tried...   [tags: Oedipus Rex Essays]
:: 2 Works Cited
755 words
(2.2 pages)
Better Essays[preview]
Summary of Oedipus Rex Essay - Summary of Oedipus Rex Summary for "Oedipus Rex" The storytelling method that is employed in most classical writing, i.e. the Iliad and the Odyssey as well as Greek tragedy, allows for the development of two stories. One is the story of the "now." The "now" is told through the actions and events of the play or story. The other story that is told is the "past." The "past" is composed of stories that are told by characters and gives needed background information about the main characters and events....   [tags: essays papers]1159 words
(3.3 pages)
Strong Essays[preview]
Oedipus Rex, by Sophocles Essay - “My parents are really well intended, and I think their way of dealing with things is denial and guilt. Nobody wanted to talk about it. But all I did was blame myself.” This quote, from actress Teri Hatcher about her own childhood also relates to Oedipus’s situation from Oedipus Rex by Sophocles. Sophocles‘ Oedipus Rex tells the story of a monarch named Oedipus whowho becomes the unfortunate victim of circumstances beyond his control. In Oedipus Rex, Oedipus‘ downfall is not a result of excessive hubris or his actions, but rather his parents’ disgraceful actions and uncontrollable aspects of fate....   [tags: Summary, Fate, Character Actions]
:: 3 Works Cited
815 words
(2.3 pages)
Better Essays[preview]
Essay about Oedipus as Scapegoat in Oedipus the King - Oedipus as Scapegoat in Oedipus the King        The great psychologist-philosopher Carl Jung was briefly a student of Freud. Because Jung felt that Freud's approach to psychoanalysis was by far too narrow, he broke off from his teachings, and made significant contributions to mythological criticism. Jung's greatest contribution was his theory of archetypes. His proposal of archetypes argues that there is one original pattern or model of all things of the same type. According to Jung, beneath the personal unconscious is a collective unconscious that is in the psychic inheritance of all humans....   [tags: Oedipus the King Oedipus Rex]
:: 4 Works Cited
1496 words
(4.3 pages)
Powerful Essays[preview]
The Punishment of Oedipus the King (Oedipus Rex) Essay - The Punishment of Oedipus the King At the end of Sophocles' Oedipus Rex, Oedipus, king of Thebes, ends up banished forever from his kingdom. Additionally, Oedipus physically puts out his own eyes, for several reasons which will be discussed later. The question is: Did Oedipus deserve his punishments. There are many factors that must be considered in answering this, including how Oedipus himself felt about his situation. His blinding was as much symbolic as it was physical pain....   [tags: Oedipus the King Oedipus Rex]1180 words
(3.4 pages)
Strong Essays[preview]
Essay Oedipus the King - Oedipus the King The uniqueness of the story of Oedipus the King lies in the fact that it is not told, but uncovered. Intertwined within are the workings of fate, which ultimately propel the uncovering of the story (Driver 247). The past is relied upon to solve the mystery of the present; however, it is learned by all that actions taken in the past will not change the fate of the future. The gods of Sophocles are the forces which operate within the cosmos, thus giving its consistency and order....   [tags: Oedipus the King Oedipus Rex]394 words
(1.1 pages)
Strong Essays[preview]

Related Searches

King Summary         Oedipus         Human Experience         Sophocles’ Oedipus         Jocasta         Greek Tragedy         Heard         Travelers         Antithesis         Sphinx        




On his return and relation of the news, he discovers his identity and of his parents and discovers his sins. In his despair, he blinds himself, and Jocasta hangs herself. He is exiled and Creon takes the throne of Thebes.

During this entire fray of minds—between Tiresias and Oedipus, Creon and Oedipus, and others—certain idiosyncrasies of Oedipus are brazenly revealed. Among them, in the beginning, is his short temperament and quick judgment of situations as, for example, his confrontation of Creon after he had sent Tiresias away. He is quick to think that Creon conspired against him although he had no proof. However, by the end of the novel, he is humbled by his discovery of his sins and becomes a more enlightened man through his discovery of his ignorance of the realities of his world and his realization that there is no escaping destiny.



Leave a Comment

(0 Comments)

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *