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100+ Oedipus Essay Topics: Fresh Insights

Sophocles’ “Oedipus Rex” (also known as “Oedipus the King”) is considered as one of the most prominent examples of ancient drama. Sophocles raises an important question: What is more important, the will of the gods, or human will? The author strives to show the strength of character and the desire of a person to direct life at will. Aristotle considered this play a perfect model of tragic irony.

In the plot of “Oedipus the King,” Sophocles has taken from the Theban cycle of myths that was very popular among Athenian playwrights. The tragedy consists of six episodes separated by songs performed by the citizens of Thebes (society’s comment to events on the stage). The cycle of episodes represent six steps Oedipus took to clarify the secrets of the past and gradually become aware of terrible truth.

All Greek tragedies are built around gods, mythology, and well-known (for that time) ancient dynasties. To write a good essay on “Oedipus the King” you need to read the tragedy. It may be a bit confusing, as the story has a lot of plot twists. Pick the most interesting topic from our “Oedipus” essay topics list. Don’t try to guess what topic will be more interesting to your teacher; pick only those you feel passionate about. A good essay is a result of honest and real enthusiasm.

Compare and Contrast “Oedipus the King” Topics

  1. Compare and contrast the play “Oedipus the King” and the film version (1957). Compare the plot of the play and how it was presented in the movie.
  2. Compare and contrast the play “Oedipus the King” and “A Streetcar Named Desire.”
  3. Compare and contrast the Creon character in “Oedipus the King” and “Antigone.”
  4. Compare and contrast the tragedy “Oedipus Rex” and the opera “Stravinsky Conducts Oedipus Rex (Opera-Oratorio in Two Acts After Sophacles).”
  5. Compare and contrast Oedipus’ character in “Oedipus the King” and Maximus Decimus Meridius in the movie “Gladiator.”
  6. Compare and contrast Djanet Sears’ “Harlem Duet” and Sophocles’ “Oedipus the King.” Consider dialogues, the role of gestures, sound effects, and costumes.
  7. Compare and contrast Shakespeare’s “Othello” and Sophocles’ “Oedipus the King” in the context of free will.
  8. Compare and contrast the tragedy “Oedipus the King” and the comedy “Lysistrata.” How would these two plays be received by the modern audience?
  9. Compare and contrast “Prometheus Bound” and “Oedipus the King” in the context of the elements of tragedy, character development, and theme of morality.
  10. Compare and contrast the themes from Henrik Ibsen’s “A Doll’s House” and Sophocles’ “Oedipus” in the context of modern society.
  11. Compare and contrast the leadership characteristics of Oedipus and Odysseus.
  12. Compare and contrast the tragic hero Oedipus and the epic hero Gilgamesh.
  13. Compare and contrast two main characters from Oedipus the king from a historical context.
  14. Compare and contrast “Hamlet” and “Oedipus the King.” You can analyze tragic flaws or the hero’s quest.
  15. Compare and contrast themes in the plays “Oedipus the King” and The Book of Job.
  16. Compare and contrast characters of fathers and sons in “Oedipus the King” and Pinter’s “The Homecoming.”
  17. Compare and contrast “Oedipus the King” and “Beloved.”
  18. Compare and contrast various versions written on the basis of “Oedipus the King.” Some of the versions tell that Laius has put out Oedipus’ eyes. How does it change the context?
  19. Compare and contrast attitudes towards women in “Oedipus the King” and “Hamlet.”
  20. Compare the final moments of both Socrates and Oedipus. How are they determined by past acts of autonomy?
  21. Compare and contrast the motif of blindness in “Oedipus the King” and “King Lear.”
  22. Compare and contrast Oedipus and a character from the movie “Biker Boyz.”
  23. Compare and contrast “Oedipus the King” and “Oedipus at Colonus.” What has changed?
  24. Compare the rise and fall of Oedipus to the rise and fall of Athens in Ancient Greece. Can the play be considered a prophecy?
  25.  Compare and contrast the role of gods and fate in “Oedipus the King” and “Antigone.”
  26. Compare and contrast “Death of a Salesman” and “Oedipus the King” as dramatic tragedies.
  27. Compare and contrast themes of exile, journeys, and the return to home in “Oedipus the King” and “The Odyssey.”

Analytical Essay Topics for “Oedipus the King” Essay

  1. Analyze some aspects from “Oedipus the King” and “Antigone.”
  2. Analyze the influence of the family of identities of Oedipus and King Lear.
  3. Describe the Jocasta character. Analyze the character in terms of the concepts of the necessary and probable, cause and effect, pity and fear, and recognition and reversal. How does she take the news that she is Oedipus’ mother?
  4. Analyze how Sophocles critiques and reacts to specific historical and cultural aspects of the epoch.
  5. Analyze Oedipus’ hubris and downfall from the Socratic understanding of wisdom.
  6. Analyze the Oedipus character: character traits, family, feelings, etc. Add evidence from the original text.
  7. Analyze the images of light and dark/knowledge and ignorance in “Oedipus the King.”
  8. Analyze the Oedipus character as a political and social leader. The play was written in Athens, which has a difficult relationship with kings.
  9. Analyze the drama “Oedipus the King” as a response to literary criticism.
  10. Analyze writing techniques that Sophocles uses: title, plot, theme, symbols, imagery, connotation of words, character development, staging, tone, etc. How do they help to deliver the main message of the play?
  11. Analyze “Oedipus the King” from the perspective of deductive and inductive reasoning. How do Oedipus and others solve problems?
  12. Analyze the play in the context of the following expression: “You can’t run from your destiny.”
  13. Analyze the title of “Oedipus the King.” How could it be named alternatively?
  14. Analyze the symbols that are represented in “Oedipus the King.” How do they contribute to the play?
  15. Analyze the dialogue in Scene II in “Oedipus the King.” How does it characterize Oedipus?
  16. Analyze “Oedipus the King” from a Marxist criticism perspective.
  17. Analyze the roles of hamartia, peripety, and catastrophe in “Oedipus the King.”
  18. Analyze Sophocles’ life and political and socioeconomical standards of Ancient Greece in relation to “Oedipus the King.”
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Descriptive Essay Topics “Oedipus the King”

  1. Define the reasons that have led Oedipus to his downfall.
  2. Define the main conflict and theme of “Oedipus the King.” How is it expressed?
  3. How does Sophocles address the issues of the time in the play?
  4. Define the role of women in “Oedipus the King.” What was the place of women in that era? What is the difference between the roles of women and men?
  5. Discuss how Oedipus, Jocasta, or another main character confronts the demands of their own passion, which conflicts with their personal responsibilities.
  6. Describe the central problem or question that Sophocles addresses in “Oedipus the King.”
  7. Discuss the Oedipus myth in the context of the play “The Infernal Machine.” What elements of the myth does the writer incorporate into the play?
  8. Examine the relationships between husbands and wives, men and women in “Oedipus the King,” “Antigone,” “Odyssey,” and “Epic of Gilgamesh.”
  9. What is the meaning of mythical elements in the tragedy “Oedipus the King”? Has Sophocles altered the myths for his own purpose? How does the deeper understanding of the myths help the reader fully understand the play?
  10. What features of a Greek tragedy does the play “Oedipus the King” have?
  11. What emotion does the play “Oedipus the King” rouse? What lessons have the people (from Ancient Greece) learned from the play?
  12. What is the place of the individual and society in the drama “Oedipus the King”?
  13. Describe how ideas from Sophocles’ play “Oedipus the King” are connected to the Tanakh.
  14. Describe the climax of “Oedipus the King.” What arguments can you propose?
  15. Discuss the concept of sophrosyne and all of its implications in “Oedipus the King” and “Antigone.” What role does it play?
  16. Describe the changes that occur to Creon throughout the play “Oedipus the King.” Consider his status, his relationship with Oedipus and Jocasta, and his attitude to the throne.
  17. Define the examples of the use peripeteia and pathos in “Oedipus the King.”

Argumentative “Oedipus Rex” Topics

  1. Think about the guilt of Oedipus from the modern perspective. Is Oedipus guilty? Why?
  2. What role does the Oracle at Delphi play in “Oedipus Rex”?
  3. Define the role of Tiresias in the conflict of Oedipus and Creon.
  4. Discuss the meaning of hospitality in “Oedipus the King” and “Odyssey.”
  5. Can Oedipus be considered a hero? What heroic actions has he conducted?
  6. How does Sophocles’ “Oedipus the King” relate to the Oedipus complex? Has Oedipus killed his father unconsciously to obtain his mother Jocasta?
  7. Is “Oedipus the King” a tragedy? Consider Aristotle’s analysis of tragedy.
  8. Is Oedipus able to control his fate? Why do you think so?
  9. Pick two or three ironic speeches from “Oedipus the King.” Explain why.
  10. Discuss how fate affects the main characters in “Oedipus the King,” “Othello,” and “A Tale for the Time Being.” How does it create meaning for the reader?
  11. Does Oedipus deserve his fate? Define whether the punishment is appropriate for his mistakes.
  12. Is “Oedipus the King” a classic tragedy, modern tragedy, or not a tragedy at all?
  13. Is Oedipus a fatally flawed character whose hubris destroys his life, family, and society?
  14. Tell what you feel about the Oedipus character. Do you sympathize or condemn Oedipus? What are his strong qualities? What are his biggest mistakes?
  15. Discuss “Oedipus the King” in the context of the relationship between gods and people.
  16. Is Oedipus guilty or innocent? Take your stance and present your own insight on the issue.
  17. Persuade your readers to read “Oedipus the King.” How has the tragedy affected you in person? Why do you recommend it to the audience?
  18. Who is keeping secrets in the play? Why does the character(s) decide to keep a secret?
  19. Is Hamlet more of an Oedipus complex than Oedipus himself? Why?
  20. Would Oedipus act the same way if he knew the truth from the very beginning?
  21. Discuss the concept of the ideal ruler in “The Iliad,” “The Odyssey,” and “Oedipus the King.”
  22. Was Oedipus doomed to failure from the very beginning? What could he have done to avoid his destiny?

Expository Essay Topics in “Oedipus Rex”

  1. Explain how the play judges Oedipus.
  2. Explain whether Oedipus deserve punishment
  3. How does the author depict fate and free will in “Oedipus Rex”?
  4. Discuss how the motif of blindness is presented in the tragedy. How does sight affect the truth?
  5. How does Sophocles try to develop the idea of fate in his plays?
  6. How does the Oracle’s sayings “know thyself,” “go bail and ruin is at hand,” and “nothing in excess” relate to the play “Oedipus Rex”?
  7. Explain what the text of “Oedipus the King” suggests about knowledge and understanding.
  8. How is mystery presented in the play? Explain how the investigation of a mystery influences the overall plot.
  9. Make a full description of one character from “Oedipus the King.” Consider age, family, social position, personality traits, beliefs, and motivation.
  10. How is irony used in the play? What type of irony is used? Explain how it affects the reader’s perception of the drama.
  11. Explain why Oedipus is considered as a tragic hero. Consider such points as nobleness and the reversal of fortune.
  12. Explain the tragedy “Oedipus the King” in a sociohistorical context.
  13. Explain the role of music, dance, and masks in Greek theater in the context of the tragedy “Oedipus the King.”
  14. What meaning did the play hold to the people who produced and consumed it originally in Ancient Greece? Consider that Greek tragic plays were religious events.
  15. Why is Oedipus prone to asking questions? What does it mean?
  16. Explain the meaning of different kinds of blindness and moments of epiphany in “Oedipus the King.”
  17. Explain the meaning of allusions in “Oedipus the King.”
  18. Explain the significance of climax and resolution in the play “Oedipus the King.”
  19. Examine the theme of pride in “Oedipus the King,” and “The Convergence of the Twain.”
  20. Explain the note before the temple of Delphi regarding Oedipus’ life. Does Oedipus know himself?
  21. Explain why Oedipus doesn’t kill himself at the end of the tragedy. Why does the chorus sing respectively at the end?
  22. Explain why Oedipus and Antigone can be considered as victims of the gods.
  23. Explain the role of the chorus in Greek theater. Explain how it is used in “Oedipus the King.”
  24. Explain the role of omens, superstitions, and prophecies used in “Hamlet” and “Oedipus the King.”
  25. Explain the importance of the shepherd.
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