Cliff Notes™, Cliffs Notes™, Cliffnotes™, Cliffsnotes™ are trademarked properties of the John Wiley Publishing Company. TheBestNotes.com does not provide or claim to provide free Cliff Notes™ or free Sparknotes™. Free Cliffnotes™ and Free Spark Notes™ are trademarked properties of the John Wiley Publishing Company and Barnes & Noble, Inc., respectively. TheBestNotes.com has no relation.

TheBestNotes.com: Free Summary / Study Guide / Book Summaries / Literature Notes / Analysis / Synopsis
 
+Larger Font+
-Smaller Font-





Free Study Guide for Oedipus the King by Sophocles

Previous Page | Table of Contents | Next Page
Downloadable / Printable Version


THEMES


Major Theme

The major theme explored in Oedipus Rex is that fate and character are intertwined. Oedipus is not only fated to perform such detestable acts but his very behavior (which leads him to doing these) determines his fate. The crimes that he committed against his father and mother were repugnant but not as detestable as that of ignoring the very signs, which could have averted the tragedy. By not paying heed to the oracle or following up on the rumors about his heritage, Oedipus set into motion the fate that was ordained him. His presumption and arrogance about who he was lead to his fall. Sophocles believed that humans have free will yet they are limited by a larger order that controls all things. By going against the larger cosmic order, Oedipus’ fate was determined. Ultimately, it is Oedipus who chooses his path, the one of ignorance rather than clarity, and in doing so, he must take responsibility for his actions.



Minor Theme

A minor theme is that of self-knowledge as being a key to understanding one’s place in the universe. It is only through Oedipus’ inquiry into his heritage that he discovers the painful truth of who he is and what it means to be human. Although he must abdicate the throne, abandon his family, and destroy his family as well as his sight, Oedipus is given the insight of self-knowledge. His blindness therefore becomes ironic as it is only when he loses his sight that he actually gains the insight into himself he did not have before.


MOOD

The mood of the play from the beginning to the end is of devastation, destruction and gloom. The play opens with Thebes suffering from a severe plague due to an unresolved murder. This mood of suffering and pollution is emphasized as the play proceeds. That the whole kingdom must suffer for the sins of one man reveals how dynamic the universe in Greek tragedy is. Everything is interconnected and vindication must be sought in order for the kingdom to regain its normalcy. The suffering which begins as a phenomenon in the kingdom eventually concentrates on the pain and suffering of the royal family.

The Greeks did not permit comic interludes in tragedies, as they would dilute the effect of the tragedy. In such a case, the ultimate aim of a tragedy, that being catharsis, would become impossible. Therefore, even in Oedipus, there are no comic scenes. The somber, sad, and disturbed mood dominates the entire play.


Previous Page
| Table of Contents | Next Page
Downloadable / Printable Version

Oedipus Rex / Oedipus the King Free BookNotes Summary

Privacy Policy
All Content Copyright©TheBestNotes. All Rights Reserved.
No further distribution without written consent.
95 Users Online | This page has been viewed 5237 times
This page was last updated on 5/9/2017 8:50:48 AM

Cite this page:

TheBestNotes.com Staff. "TheBestNotes on Oedipus Rex/Oedipus the King". TheBestNotes.com. . 09 May 2017
             <>.