Oedipus the King Teaching Guide
- 12 pages
- Subject: Allusion, Historical Context, Mythology, Plot, Themes, Lesson Plans and Educational Resources
- Grade Levels: 9, 10, 11, 12
Additional Oedipus the King Resources
So you're going to teach Sophocles's Oedipus the King (also called Oedipus Rex). Whether it’s your first or hundredth time, this classic text has been a mainstay of English classrooms for generations. While it has its challenging spots, teaching this text to your class will be rewarding for you and your students. It will give them unique insight into Greek tragedy and the work of Sophocles, and important understanding surrounding fate, free will, and the dangers of pursuing truth at all costs.
About This Document
Owl Eyes Teaching Guides have been designed to help first-time and veteran teachers open up classic works of literature for their students. Our guides provide rich background information, identify key themes and topics, and offer creative and practical approaches to teaching the text.
The main components of each guide include the following:
- A concise history of the text
- An explanation of significant allusions
- Teaching approaches and discussion questions
- Discussion questions
- Tricky issues to address while teaching
- Alternative teaching approaches
- A list of complementary texts
These Teaching Guides offer valuable context and promote meaningful discussions about novels, plays, poems, and stories that have captivated English Language Arts students for generations. Each guide is comprehensive and concise, thought-provoking and practical.
Approaches and Discussion Questions Excerpt
Fate vs. Free Will: The thrust of the play centers around whether or not its characters have the power to change their fate. Laius and Jocasta try to avoid the prophecy about their son when they give their child to a shepherd to be killed; Oedipus tries to avoid killing his father and marrying his mother when he decides never to return to Corinth. Oedipus could be considered doomed because of his display of hubris, his prideful belief that he can defy his fate and the gods. The events of the play suggests that while humans are not able to control the events of their lives, employment of free will does grant them the ability to mitigate the suffering therein.
- For discussion: Describe the different attributes each character has. Are some characters better able to control their lives than others? How, why, and to what end?
- For discussion: How does Oedipus’s understanding of himself and his destiny change over the course of the play? How is he able to control his destiny?
- For discussion: What does the play suggest about the role of free will in an individual’s life? Does it align with your worldview? Why or why not?
Additional Discussion Questions:
- What are the conflicts in the plot? Who are they between and why do they occur?
- What dramatic function does the Chorus serve in the play?
- How does Sophocles use dramatic irony in Oedipus the King? What are some examples?
- What does the Chorus's speech at the end of the play reveal about life?
- Discuss whether or not Oedipus is a victim of fate or his own actions.