Literary Analysis Essay Sample on Oedipus the King

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University of Richmond
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"Oedipus the King" means "Oedipus Rex" in Latin. This classical work is tragic to the ancient Greek playwright known as Sophocles, it was first put to play in 429 BC. This narrative is about a king of Thebes named Oedipus. He kills his father and marries his mother, Jocasta. The story is mainly concerned with fate and free will. People perhaps think of it as incestuous when they ought to think of the tension between the actions of an individual. Sophocles himself suggests that a character is not wholesomely responsible for his actions which is a significant statement identifying the state of character’s free will.

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Plot Points of Oedipus the King

As the plot unravels, Oedipus is the king of Thebes. He fulfills a prophecy that was to cause the demise of his father Laius by striking him dead and marrying his mother, Jocasta. He makes her his queen following a successful mission of un-puzzling the riddle of Sphinx (Oedipus Rex, 2016). The primary activity in Sophocles' play includes Oedipus' search for the murderer of his father so as to end the plague afflicted in the land. Little did he know that the killer and the cause of the disease were himself (Kousoulis et al.). Finally, when the story ends, Jocasta hangs herself while Oedipus gouges his eyes out horrified by his actions ("Classicnotes: Oedipus Rex / Oedipus The King Full Analysis").

Oedipus the King by Sophocles: Main Character Analysis

Oedipus is a victim of the Greek and Roman gods according to the ancient mythologies of both. These gods have the ability to influence individual lifestyle and behavior as shown in Oedipus the King. It is this fate that ancient Rome and Greece believed in that influenced Oedipus' actions. When the king learned his destiny, he thought he could change everything by running away. Unfortunately, the warnings of the Oracle were very clear. The prophecy had to happen. The thesis of Oedipus the King is, therefore, to emulate the possible consequences of defying the gods in agreement with the beliefs of contemporary Greek and Roman society. All this is shown by the character Oedipus and his downfall which was as a result of attempting to defy the gods. A lot of people tried to change his fate, yet it persisted, which is a conviction that the Greeks were steadfast to their gods and nothing could change the future once it was said to be. Subsequently, my review will on its own magnify the use of the three-way crossroad symbolism as employed by the writer.

Motifs, Images, and Symbols in Oedipus the King

The intersection symbol is of importance in work. It signifies the moment where the protagonist and his father reunite. Notice that this symbol shows the decisions that affect the structure of the actor's life. The decision on what path to pick depends entirely on Oedipus. My connotation of the crossroad is opposite to the "point where three roads converge" that Oedipus comes across. My point of perspective is the place where Oedipus can accept his life and embrace his calling. The book following the Oracle's prophecy can suggest Oedipus' life as doomed, but the crossroad will defy this notion by symbolizing the availability of other options. Can anyone realize the essence of the road is a point where three roads meet? Why couldn't the roads be four or five or even more? Notice that the number three is of particular significance in Oedipus' life. This number in my perspective represents Oedipus himself. Apart from holding the position of a king, he also holds three positions in the family perspective. He is both a son and a husband and a father to her wife Jocasta, who is her mother; which is not the typical structure of a family. This number can as well refer to the position of the queen, Jocasta also as a "mother, bride and wife" (Sophocles, 64). The number three may also coincide with the three possible paths Oedipus would embark on. The road to turning back to his foster home, the life of being tolerant and having a sense of humility is shown when he holds his temper against his father which results in no fights and deaths, and lastly, the path in which he kills Laius and his men. The crossroad is, therefore, the ultimate point in life where his past, his present, and future collide. The past and present meet when Oedipus and Laius meet again (Oedipus Rex, 2016). When Oedipus loses his temper, he decides to forge ahead towards the future. We also assume that this number three has a lot of significance. After the abandonment of Oedipus, this number pops in several aspects of the story. An instance is at the point of mentioning the birth and rejection of the protagonist. My interpretation of this symbol will change my view of this story. For I've realized that if we study the three paths deeply, we can spur three different outcomes in the play. The symbol does apply a literal meaning in the case of the protagonist. It shows several happenings in the past, present, and future of the King, Oedipus in a three-dimensional approach.

What Are the Personality Traits of Oedipus the King?

One can change his personality and the way of life as a result of influence by another party. Such changes can range from gradual and unnoticeable to being rapid and detrimental. In my way of life, I have practically attempted to emulate other people's dressing code or even talking style which is a similar experience to the way of life of Oedipus. When I have the conviction that something is wrong, I tend to be stubborn. The protagonist also portrays stubbornness when he denies what Tiresias told him even after the Oracle proves to him that he could see into the future. One of the major characters I possess is the ability to identify a problem and critically think about possible solutions to it. This level of intelligence is also portrayed by Oedipus when he saves Thebes by answering the sphinx riddle and is awarded the crown and the queen's hand in marriage.


Oedipus the King has become one of the best tragedy stories ever written. The basis of tragedies written after that emulates its dramatic structure. This story strongly relates to most of the issues faced in today's society through a few concepts that might seem a little foreign. The time setting of over 2000 years ago has no impact on the current societal environment as most issues it addresses still have the essence of entangling most of the people today.

Works Cited

"Classic Notes: Oedipus Rex / Oedipus The King Full Analysis". Bsu Edu. N.p., 2016. Web. 6 Dec. 2016.

Kousoulis, Antonis A., et al. "The Plague Of Thebes, A Historical Epidemic In Sophocles Oedipus Rex". NCIB. N.p., 2012. Web. 6 Dec. 2016.

"Enjoying "Oedipus the King" by Sophocles." n.p., 1 Jan. 1970.Web. 5 Dec. 2016.

"Oedipus the King " Sophocles. n.p., 1 Jan. 1970.Web. 5 Dec. 2016.

"Oedipus the King" . n.p., 1 Jan. 1970.Web. 5 Dec. 2016.

Sophocles. Harvard University Press. p. 123. n.p. Whitman, C.1951.

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