Story, Plot and Themes in Sophocle's Oedipus Rex

Only available on StudyMode
  • Topic: Oedipus, Sophocles, Oedipus the King
  • Pages : 7 (2513 words )
  • Download(s) : 345
  • Published : July 31, 2012
Open Document
Text Preview








Sophocles introduced several important innovations to the stage like creating powerfully motivated characters who today still fascinate the audience with their psychological depth. Oedipus Rex is a tragic play showing an unmerited misfortune on the part of the protagonist Oedipus. Tragedy as Aristotle puts it, is an imitation of an action that is serious, complete and of a certain magnitude in language embellished with each kind of artistic ornament, the several kinds being found in separate parts of the play: in the form of action not of narrative through pity and fear effecting the proper purgation of these emotions. Sophocles’ play is set in Athens and around 429 B.C and it puts forth clearly the idea of Greek mythology having as characteristic the unavoidability of a prophecy: the more a character tries to avert a prophecy, the more he moves towards the fulfillment of the prophecy. This work aims at looking at the story outline, the plot structure and the themes contained in Oedipus Rex.

The story line of a literary work refers to the chronological development of the events. The story in Oedipus Rex begins where Laius the king of Thebes, goes to Delphi with the intention to seek Apollo’s advice as to having a child. He learns from Apollo that he will have a child and this child will kill him and marry his wife Jocasta. At the birth of Oedipus, his parents Laius and Jocasta plan to kill the young Oedipus. The child is thus given to the royal shepherd to be left to die at mount Cithaeron where a Corinthian shepherd rescues him and gives him to the childless king Polybus and queen Merope. He grows up in this Corinthian royal court as a prince, until he is told by the drunkard that Polybus is not his real father. In his attempt to find out the truth about his biological parents, Apollo tells him that he is doomed to kill his father and marry his own mother. Apollo’s prophecy urges Oedipus to flee from Corinth since he loves his parents and wouldn’t like to do such a horrible act. On his way out of Corinth, he meets an escort, of which the members refuse to leave him, and he kills them in a confrontation. Oedipus arrives Thebes, where the citizens are threatened by a Sphinx. He answers the Sphinx’s riddle and the threat comes to an end and Oedipus is crowned as the new king of Thebes. The Thebans give him the late king’s wife Jocasta, with whom he bears four children. This act is to show their gratitude. Another plague befalls Thebes and Apollo says the king’s murderer must be found out. In the meantime, a messenger arrives from Corinth to announce that their king is dead and that Oedipus should return to succeed him. As the story unravels, Oedipus realizes that he is not a Corinthian prince, but a Theban. The once royal Theban shepherd, who channeled Oedipus to Corinth, is summoned, and from him Oedipus learns who his real parents are: Laius and Jocasta. On realizing the truth, Jocasta commits suicide by hanging and Oedipus blinds himself and goes on exile where he was doomed to die. Power changes hand and Creon becomes the Theban king.

1-Presentation of the plot
Aristotle defines plot as “the arrangement of incidents” in a play. It is constituted of an initial situation, a climax and the resolution. The play Oedipus Rex also abides by this streamline as seen below: 1.1The initial situation

Sophocles begins the play in a situation where a plague dooms Theban citizens to suffering and death. Hence, they gather at the palace of their king and plead through the mouth of the priest for a salvatory action by their leader. Oedipus sends Creon to fetch solutions from the oracle...
tracking img