Essays on Oedipus The King

Oedipus The King
Original title Oedipus The King
Author Sophocles
Genre Tragedy
Language Classical Greek
Characters Oedipus, Priest, Creon, Tiresias, Jocasta, Messenger, Shepherd, Second Messenger
Published 429 BC
ISBN 978-0-486-27085-1
Book Summary
Essay Examples

Table of Contents

About Oedipus the King Book

Oedipus Rex is also known for its Greek title, Oedipus Tyrannus or Oedipus the King. It was written by Sophocles and is an Athenian tragedy that was first performed around 429 BC. It was first premiered in Athens at the Theatre of Dionysus and is a series of Theban Plays. Oedipus the King book revolves around the life and happenstance of a young boy named Oedipus who was to grow up to fulfill a tragic prophecy.

Foretold by the Oracle that her son would murder his father and marry his mother, Queen Jocasta orders him to be killed. However, Oedipus isn’t killed but grows up in another city raised by another parent. He goes to the Oracle Delphi to have a look at his fate and is told of his ill-fate. In an attempt to not fulfill his destiny, he unknowingly fulfills it.

Oedipus the King Summary

Oedipus The King is a Greek tragedy that tells the story of King Oedipus of Thebes. King Oedipus is fated to marry his mother and also kill his father. The city of Thebes is struck by a plague that will only be lifted if the man who killed the former King is exiled. Oedipus calls for the prophet Tiresias to reveal their identity, and the prophet claims that the murderer is Oedipus.

An oracle had told Queen Jocasta that her son would kill her husband and marry her, so she left her son, Oedipus, to die. Unknowingly to her, Oedipus survives and kills his father without knowing, marrying his mother and becoming King. Queen Jocasta hangs herself when the truth is revealed, and King Oedipus uses her pins to blind himself and goes into exile. These are the focal points that are meant to be discussed in an essay on Oedipus the King. 

Oedipus the King Quotes

Essay questions for Oedipus the King sometimes involve common quotes from the text. Below are a few of these:

“Thou lov’st to speak in riddles and dark words.”

“King as thou art, free speech at least is mine. To make reply; in this, I am thy peer.”

“Closer, it’s all right. Touch the man of grief. Do. Don’t be afraid. My troubles are mine, and I am the only man alive who can sustain them.”

“Whose tale sadder than thine, whose lot more dire? O Oedipus, discrowned head, Thy cradle was thy marriage bed.”

“Weep not; everything must have its day.”

“How dreadful the knowledge of the truth can be. When there’s no help in truth.”

“To throw away an honest friend is, as it were, to throw your life away.”

“Time, which sees all things, has found you out.”

“Fear? What has a man to do with fear? Chance rules our lives, and the future is all unknown. Best live as we may, from day to day.”

 Essay Structure on Oedipus the King


When writing an introduction, have it at the back of your mind that your main aim is to lay a foundation for your position, thesis, and argument to your reader about the book and the issue you hope to tackle. This will help you develop a powerful opening. For this, it is always best to start with a “hook.”

An example of a compelling hook could be striking quotations from the book (“Weep not, everything must have its day,” “Time, which sees all things, has found you out,” or “Thou lov’st to speak in riddles and dark words.”).

With your reader’s attention hooked, you can move on to writing your thesis statement. Your thesis statement must clearly show your readers the position you are standing with.

 The Body Paragraphs

The main goal of the body paragraphs is to explain the examples chosen to support your argument in detail. The first body paragraph must have the strongest point or the most significant example. The opening sentence should also be the main sentence of the paragraph.

It is also essential to write in context and explain to your reader each topic sentence. Explain to them why you have chosen a character as an example, why you have chosen a symbol as an example, and the significance of the examples chosen. 


Now note, while the conclusion comes last, it is not an afterthought. It is the final piece of the puzzle and impresses upon your readers that you have arrived at the end. Make it solid and use concluding transition words, such as finally, in conclusion, in the end, etc.

You can also add a memorable quote or allusion to this statement and use it to reemphasize your thesis statement. End your conclusion with a call to action that spurs your readers into duty.

Tips to Consider While Writing An essay About Oedipus the King

Read the book thoroughly

It goes without saying that if you want to write a book, you have to first read it. So when writing an essay about Oedipus the King, you need to read the book. While reading the book or even after reading it, you will have questions about different parts of the book. This does not just help you understand the book; it also helps you with your essay.

Several questions will come to your mind about the characters’ attributes, motives, vices, virtues, morals, what dictates their actions and statement, desires, and what the story’s message is. It will also help you understand the author and the message conveyed in the book.


Find a compelling topic

After thoroughly reading the book, you can develop a compelling topic that drives your readers to want to keep reading. The questions that you have raised and the ones that you will still raise will give you a foundation on which your essay topic will be found. Several questions will pop up, such as the following:

  •       What is the story about?
  •       Were there any social problems the author tried to convey in the novel?
  •       Were there any solutions to those problems?
  •   What messages did the author try to communicate regarding humanity, perception of reality, and shared human experiences?
  •       Did the story use symbols?
  •       What do the symbols represent?


When you find the answers to these questions, you will have found a great topic for your essay.

Write the thesis statement

The next thing to do is to write a thesis statement. Your thesis statement has to be specific and robust. It includes all of the arguments that you have provided as supporting points for the thesis statement that you have written and also the relevant examples in the book.

The relevant examples added to your thesis statement will help you enhance your arguments and maintain your stance on the issue. Choose an anecdote or allusion that reinforces your stance and position.

 Create the outline

After your thesis statement, you must organize your thoughts by creating an outline. Have a picture of the structure you want to create, and you will be able to create an outline from it. This outline serves as the basis for all the contents you will create and the arguments you will make.

An outline usually contains three major parts; the introduction or introductory paragraphs, the body paragraphs, and the concluding paragraphs or conclusion. These have been explained in the previous section.

Outlines are to help you create a detailed, coherent, and logical structure that helps you seamlessly turn ideas and thoughts into words, sentences, and paragraphs. A strong outline has to have a series of main ideas. These ideas are what you plan on presenting in your essay PDF.

Here, you’ll have to create multiple ideas from either resources, research or questions about your essay topic and ideas you’ll want to touch on in the essay. Your outline prompts the paragraphs in your essay, so you need to ensure that they are also well organized.

Single out all of your main ideas from the supporting ideas and make them as original as you can. Expand on them and make them fully developed.

 Include a lesson or moral

The moral of your story is always interlinked with the story’s theme. So also, the lesson or the moral of your essay is always interlinked with the theme of your essay. It is interlinked with the central idea and position you have taken and is what you leave with your reader to take home. 

 Conclusion: Proofread your work

In conclusion, proofread your work. This will help you correct all the grammar and spelling errors you might have made and also improve the style and clarity you desire.

Go through your essay, review it, edit it, revise it, reorganize your ideas and sentences and modify your sentences to improve and make it as tight as possible.

If you are having a drag writing an essay about Oedipus the King, our writers are here to help you with a perfect essay in no time while you enjoy reading the book.


What is the message of Oedipus the King?

The message of Oedipus the King is that which says that it is impossible to escape one’s fate. The Delphi Oracle had told Oedipus about his ill fate, but he ran to fulfill it, thinking he was running away.

 Why is Oedipus a tragic hero essay?

Oedipus is considered a tragic hero because he is not perfect but has tragic flaws. This is according to the terms of the Aristotelian theory of tragedy. Aristotle shows us that the tragic flaw of Oedipus is from self-righteousness and hubris.

How is Oedipus the King relevant today?

Although it was written over 2,000 years ago, Oedipus Rex reminds us of the role of fate and destiny in our lives and also how the arrogance and blindness of anyone, no matter how powerful, can lead to their downfall.

What is the major theme of Oedipus the King?

The major theme of Oedipus the King is fate vs. free will. Oedipus had received a prophecy that he would marry his mother and kill his father. Still, in his free will, he decided to escape the prophecy, only to end up fulfilling the prophecy regarding his fate.

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FAQ about Oedipus The King

Who Is the Tragic Hero in Antigone?
...Creon condemned her to death and would not alter his perspective since he figured he would look weak to his people. This determination made him murder Antigone. Creon's obstinacy is his disastrous defect, which is appeared all through the play. These...
How is Oedipus a Tragic Hero According to Aristotle?
...Jocasta is the only person that felt pity for him. She knew the answers that Oedipus needed, but did not want him to find out. Jocasta told many lies to Oedipus. Oedipus is certainly a tragic hero. His determination and faith to search and find the t...
“Oedipus Rex” and what lead to his downfall
...Finally, Oedipus learns the entire truth: he had married his mother, killed his father, and had learned his birth parents are Laius and Jocasta. She, now, knows the truth proved feeble. Only after seeking the truth does Oedipus become noble. For the ...
What caused the downfall of Oedipus?
...This conclusion is too superficial, in reality Sophocles hardly intended to underline, that human lives are fully in the hands of Gods, but instead, that people never know what will happen to them. Oedipus could not know, that he killed his father an...
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