AP One Sheet Oedipus the King

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AP One Sheet Oedipus the King

This overview will provide a concise guide for AP students studying Sophocles’ “Oedipus the King.” It will summarize key plot points, characters, themes, and literary devices relevant to the play. The piece will serve as a quick reference for students to understand the tragic tale of Oedipus and its significance in classical literature and drama. You can also find more related free essay samples at PapersOwl about Oedipus.

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Major Characters: One major character in the story is Oedipus Rex. He is the main protagonist, who is the king of Thebes. Oedipus is portrayed as a dynamic character throughout the piece. He was notorious for his intelligence and being able to solve riddles. He saved the city of Thebes from a plague by telling a riddle to the Sphinx. Oedipus is a dynamic character because throughout the story he is finding more about his own self. Oedipus tries to figure out who the person who murdered Laios was.

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In the first part, Oedipus find out that he was the one who murdered Laios through a prophecy from Teiresias. Oedipus claimed that whoever committed murder shall be exiled, but he soon realizes that he was the one who committed the crime. The play was ironic itself because Oedipus pushes Oracle to tell him the truth which causes him to learn about his lineage which leads to his downfall. He argues with Creon because he was in denial of him committing the crime. Oedipus accuses Creon in the first part of the piece believing that Creon wants Oedipus out of the throne.

He was blind with his ignorance and being unaware of his fate. Oedipus was prone to error and scapegoated others for his actions. He was rash to find out his curiosities which was a downfall for error. He blamed others for the murder when it was him himself who killed Laios. His arrogance caused him to act out in a way where he does not listen to anyone else’s advice. Oedipus is a dynamic character because he learns from personal crisis and learns that he murdered his father and married his mother. His feelings were never fluid throughout the piece. Oedipus is a character with lots of power considering he was seen as a hero of Thebes, who is humbled by the traumatic fate he experienced. He starts from being the king to the lowest social class. “”No; I will never tell you what I know. Now it is my misery; then it would be yours. (Sophocles 1393) The quote reveals how Teiresias was aware of Oedipus’s tragic fate. Oedipus’s curiosity of his fate was a downfall which lead him to his lifetime crisis. This changed his character to a more humble and less empowered person.

Another major character in the piece is Teiresias. He is holy prophet who knows all truth and mystery. Oedipus seeks for his help on finding out the identity of who killed Laios. Teiresias informs Oedipus that he himself was the murder. In the first part, Teiresias foreshadow Oedipus’s crimes. He does this by describing a man who well fits Oedipus’s character. He was an important character throughout the piece because he lead to Oedipus’s realization. Teiresias is portrayed as a static character throughout the piece because he sees all the truth and mystery. He is seen as a cautious yet considerate character. He first refuses to reveal oedipus’s fate, which shows he is a careful and knowledgeable character. Thebes seeks Teiresias for truth and is well known by the people. “”But there is one man who may detect the criminal. This is Teiresias, this is the holy prophet. In whom, alone of all men, truth was born. (Sophocles 1392) The quote shows how Teiresias is an iconic man to the city. He is well known for being useful and knowledgeable of truth.

Another major character of the piece is the Creon. Oedipus accuses Creon for trying to sabotage him because he believes Creon is desperate for his power. Creon was accused of seducing the old prophet to lie to Oedipus. Oedipus believed that Creon wants take over the throne of Thebes. Creon claims that taking over the throne was not his intentions. He informs Oedipus of the murder and the corruption that occurs in Thebes. He challenges Oedipus which drives his actions. Oedipus accuses Creon, but Creon still challenges him. This shows that Creon is a fearless character. Creon explains how he wants the rights for the king and the best for Thebes. He wants the corruption in Thebes to end. He is portrayed as a flat character because he is only seen as bold and fearless as he informs Oedipus of the traumatic news. “”I am told that heavy accusations Have been brought against me by King Oedipus. I am not the kind of man to bear this tamely. (Sophocles 1397) The quote reveals how Creon is a strong man who challenges Oedipus’s accusations.

One major character throughout the piece is Jocaste. Jocaste is Oedipus’s wife, who is also his mother. She is a dynamic character throughout the piece. In the second part of the tragedy, she becomes a very important character. She marries Oedipus and is queen. She then finds out that Oedipus is her son. She kills herself realizing that the prophecy has been fulfilled. She is a character who develops and enhances the tragedy of Oedipus. “”Jocaste? Dead? But at whose hands? Her own. The full horror of what happened, you cannot know, for you did not see it; but I, who did, will tell you As clearly as I can how she met her death. (Sophocles 1416) At this moment, Jocaste realizes that she is married to Oedipus who is her son. She was pained and full if dread. She had to kill herself from the burden of the truth.

Shepherd is another main character throughout Oedipus Rex. He was Laios’ man who was asked to answer Oedipus’ questions and reveal his lineage. Shepherd was a flat character because he just reveals the truth to Oedipus. Shepherd was aware of all the information that Oedipus inquired. He refuses to answer Oedipus’ questions because of the terrifying truth. Shepherd reveals to Oedipus that it was he who delivered Oedipus from the palace of Laios when his parents abandoned him. Shepherd tells Oedipus that Oedipus’ wife gave shepherd the child. The news fulfilled the prophecy which lead Oedipus to his downfall. “”I pitied the baby, my king, And I thought that this man would take him far away to his own country. He saved him but for what fate! For if you are what this man says you are, No living man is more wretched than Oedipus. (Sophocles 1141) In this quote, Shepherd confirms the prophecy to Oedipus. He is a very important character to the piece because he was there when Oedipus was abandoned from his parents.

Minor Characters

The Priest is seen as a minor character throughout the piece. The priest praises Oedipus at the beginning of the story. He begs for Oedipus’s help and power. The priest gives the audience background of his power and praise for saving Thebes. The priest as a character emphasizes the power of Oedipus. Even a priest who many people look up to is praising Oedipus. The story is started off with the priest to compliment Oedipus’s achievements and praise. The priest is seen as a static character because he stays praising Oedipus the King. His purpose was to shine light on the King. “”And wisest in the ways of God. You saved us from the Sphinx, that flinty singer and the tribute (Sophocles 1385) This quote gives the audience background insight on why Oedipus is so prideful and powerful in Thebes.

Another minor character of the piece is Choragos. Choragos informs Oedipus of Teiresias, the prophet who can identify a criminal. He was a messenger to Oedipus. The reason why Oedipus was able to find out about his tragic fate was through word of mouth. Because of Choragos Oedipus learns about Teiresias. Choragos also defends Oedipus when Creon exposes Oedipus for making accusations about him. He defends Oedipus justifying that he has not been in the right state of mind after hearing the news. Choragos is portrayed as a flat character because he is loyal towards Oedipus as his messenger. He defends Oedipus no matter the situation. “”He may have spoken in anger, not from his mind. (Sophocles 1397) In this quote, Choragos defends Oedipus when Creon is angered about his accusations towards him.

Jocaste is a minor character at the end of the first part. She is just introduced at the end so we do not know as much detail about her. She is Oedipus’ wife. She questions the situation that is going on with Oedipus and Creon. She describes what kind of person Laios was to them and the location of his death. She is an understanding woman who provides insight to Creon and Oedipus. She is portrayed as a flat character because she has no distinct characteristics other than being supporting and insightful. “”Ah believe it, Oedipus! In the name of the gods, respect this oath of his For my sake, for the sake of these people here! (Sophocles 1400) In this quote, she reassures Oedipus to believe that Creon meant no harm. She is another supporting minor character throughout the piece.

Plot Outline

The first event was in the beginning where Oedipus was crowned the king for saving Thebes from a plague. He solves the riddle from the Sphinx which causes him to be seen as a hero by the people. This part is identified as exposition because it provides background knowledges on who Oedipus is. The priest praising Oedipus for his achievements is another example of exposition in the story because it provides insight on how powerful and well known Oedipus is by the people. The inciting incident occurs when Creon informs Oedipus of the death of Laios. He informs Oedipus that they must find out who committed the crime and take revenge upon whoever was guilty. Another example of inciting incident is when Oedipus is motivated to find out who the murderer is after being informed by Creon. This drives his curiosity which leads to the next event. In the next event, Choragos informs Oedipus of the prophet who can identify the criminal. This brings suspense and is the inciting incident of the story. In the following scene, Oedipus is introduced by Teiresias, who is the prophet. Teiresias refuses to tell Oedipus who the murder was. He does give detail on how the murder was, which distinctly describes Oedipus. This was the rising action of the story, creating suspense of Oedipus being the murder. This scene foreshadows the plot of the story. Another part of the rising action was when Teiresias mocks Oedipus with riddles basically implying that Oedipus is the murderer. The climax of the story is when Oedipus accuses Creon of seducing the prophet into lying and having Oedipus be seen as the murder. He accuses Creon of sabotaging him so he could be in power. Creon denies it and states that being the King is not his true intentions rather he wanted to help Thebes. Oedipus accuses Creon of being the murder of Laios. The falling action is when Locaste comes in and inquires about the situation. Oedipus and Creon explained what had happened to her. The resolution is when they are informed more insight on the kind of man Laios was.

The exposition of the piece was when Oedipus announces that there is a plague. He tells the people of the city what was happening. People were in poverty and suffering. The inciting incident of the story is when the oracle informs Oedipus that the reason for the plague is because the murderer of Laios has not been found. The rising action was when Oedipus forced Teirisias to reveal the truth to him and when Oedipus and Creon argue. The climax was when Oedipus finds out his true lineage of him killing his father and marrying his wife. The falling action is when Jocaste commits suicide. The resolution is when Oedipus blinds himself and is exiled from the throne and Thebes. The denouement of the piece is when Creon takes the throne from Oedipus and takes care of his children. The denouement includes the scene where Oedipus apologizes to his children about the misfortune.


One conflict in the piece is when Teiresias informs Oedipus about the murder. Oedipus fights desperately with the prophet, trying to figure out who committed the crime. Teiresias refused to give out such information because he knew the tragic fate of Oedipus. This is an example of man v man. Another conflict in the piece was when Oedipus is in denial of Teiresias’s words. He begins to blame others for his own actions because he is traumatized and anger through his experience. This is an example of man v self. Oedipus accuses Creon of murdering Laios. He blames Oedipus for setting things up and seducing the prophet to make up lies. He believed that Creon wanted to be the King to take over. Creon is angered at Oedipus’s accusations and denies them. He then challenges Oedipus as the king. This conflict is an example of man v man.

Figurative Language

“”See, how our lives like bird take wing, Like sparks that fly when a fire soars, To the shore of a god of evening. (Sophocles 1389) The simile was said by the chorus, describing how some aspects of life are uncontrollable. Like a bird takes wing is explaining how afflictions have no end. This provides a visual insight towards the audience. The simile stresses the emotional and anger filled experience Oedipus is suffering.

“”Listen to me, act as the crisis demands. (Sophocles 1390) This quote is an example of personification. Oedipus rants taking the sides of the murdered king. He believes strongly that the murderer deserves treason. The figurative language emphasizes the urgency Oedipus feels about the case. He feels like it is a crime that needs to be solved instantly.

“”You yourself are the pollution of this country. (Sophocles 1393) This quote is an example of a metaphor. Teiresias emphasizes the rage that Oedipus has. He claims that he is the pollution of the country to emphasize his feelings towards him. He feels that Oedipus is too entitles by his power and his ignorance is bringing the country down.


Imagery is found in the piece when the priest describes Thebes being under a plague and distress. “”Thebes is tossed on a murdering sea and can not lift her head from the death surge. A rust consumes the buds and fruits of the earth; The hers are sick; children die unborn. The quote describes the states that Thebes was currently facing. The priest confronting Oedipus of this emphasizes how dependent people are on the king and how powerful he is deemed to be. The imagery allows audience to visualize the corruption and plague of Thebes. This give background to the piece on the setting and the protagonist.

Imagery is also found when Oedipus is described when he sends the riddle to the Sphinx. The imagery in this part fuels the pride of Oedipus. “”Chagrined and outwitted, the Sphinx leaped from her rocky perch and dashed herself to death. (Sophocles 1383) In this part of the story, the sphinx was described as a majestic, strong and powerful force. The Sphinx was described as a “”Winged woman head lion. The imagery given the the Sphinx was a strong figure also emphasizes Oedipus’s pride on outwitting the powerful character. The imagery of him defeating the Sphinx allows the audience to know that he is seen as a hero throughout the piece which causes him to be over prideful.


One prominent symbol in the piece is the blindness that Oedipus faced. He was blind from being knowledgeable despite his power. His blindness is a symbol of him being blinded from the truth. The prophet was blind himself yet he was aware of everything. “”A blind man, who has his eyes now; a penniless man, who is rich now. (Sophocles 1396)

Another major symbol in the piece was the Sphinx being defeated. The sphinx was a symbol for kingship and power. Since it is a strong monument, I believe it is a symbol for strength and Oedipus gaining power. “”Thebes as a reward for ridding the city of the sphinx, a winged woman headed lion. (Sophocles 1383) Another major symbol throughout the piece was the three crossroads where oedipus murdered his father.

One prominent literary device that was seen throughout the piece was dramatic irony. The story itself was ironic because Oedipus is the murder, yet he wants to exile whoever was the murder of Laios. Oedipus tries so hard to find out the truth on who the murder was when he was the one who committed the crime. This causes him to find out his parentage and lead him to his misery. “”Now it is my misery; then, it will be yours. (Sophocles 1393) The irony throughout the pieces causes the story to be more tragic, as Oedipus finds out that he is the one who committed crime. Another major literary device used was foreshadowing. The author includes many events that foreshadowed the plot of the story. This created more suspense to the tragedy of the piece. “”If later you find error in what I have said, You may say that I have no skill in prophecy. (Sophocles 1396) This quote was a foreshadowing of the prophecy Oedipus had fulfilled. The author uses very morbid and gorry diction to emphasize the crime that had been committed. This fuels the plot, causing it to seem even more traumatic. This allows the audience to view how unlawful the murder’s actions were. This causes Oedipus to go through a crisis, experiencing that he is the murderer after scapegoating the people around him. “”By exile or death, blood for blood. (Sophocles 1387)


One major theme of the piece is that assumptions and accusations on the ones surrounding you can be a downfall to your own self identity. Another theme seen throughout the piece is that the most prideful and powerful figures can be the most blind and ignorant to events. Another major theme of the piece is no matter your social status, people will always have misfortunes. An overarching theme throughout the piece was ignorance is bliss, due to the fact that Oedipus would have been better off being ignorant of his lineage.

Significance of title

The significance of this title is that it emphasizes Oedipus’s tyranny. Oedipus’s names’s literal meaning means “”swollen foot. The title is to emphasize that even rulers and those who have the most power can have the most downfall. The ones who are the most praised can be the most flawed and hypocritical as well.

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AP One Sheet Oedipus The King. (2020, Apr 25). Retrieved from https://papersowl.com/examples/ap-one-sheet-oedipus-the-king/