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Oedipus Reading Guide and Notes

Characters
Oedipus: King of Thebes, protagonist
Jocasta: Queen of Thebes, wife and mother of Oedipus
Tiresias: A blind prophet
Creon: Brother of Jocasta
Chorus of Theban Elders: Theban citizens who honor and respect the king and the
gods
Messenger: Tells Oedipus that the King of Corinth is dead
Shepherd of Laius: Admits to receiving the infant Oedipus from Laius and Jocasta
Antigone and Ismene: Daughters of Oedipus and Jocasta

Elements of Tragedy
As we read this famous tragedy, note the following Aristotelian Elements of Tragedy using your journaling
forms. Explain how Oedipus the King illustrates these elements of tragedy. What is their significance?

Tragic Hero
Tragedy features the fall of the tragic hero
The tragic hero is neither a villain nor a model of perfection
The tragic hero has admirable characteristics and is highly renowned and
prosperous
How is Oedipus a tragic hero?

Hamartia
Means to miss the mark
An error in judgment; an accident caused by ignorance
It initiates an inevitable sequence of events producing an outcome contrary
to the protagonists intentions
How does Oedipus miss the mark?

Hubris
Extreme pride and arrogance
Oedipus attempts to defy the gods prophecies; is this an example of hubris?
Why or why not? What other examples of hubris do you see in the play?

Peripeteia
A reversal of circumstances, or turning point
It is the shift of the tragic protagonists fortune from good to bad
Spoiler alert! The peripeteia occurs towards the end of the play when the
Messenger brings Oedipus news of his parentage.
What is the significance of this peripeteia?

Anagnorisis
The tragic heros discovery of his own identity/true character OR the tragic
heros discovery of someone else's identity/true nature
Dramatic Irony
Occurs when the audience knows something that the characters don't.
Oedipus leaves his family because it has been foretold that he will kill his
father and marry his mother. Oedipus doesn't know, however, that he was adopted.
What is the role of dramatic irony?

Catharsis
Means purgation or purification
According to Aristotle, tragedy should evoke pity and fear in the audience,
leading finally to catharsis, which is the release or cleansing of these emotions.
Catharsis is an experience that brings pity and fear into their proper balance.
Through watching tragedy, the audience learns how to feel these emotions at proper
levels.
How/at what points does this play evoke pity and fear?

Aristotelian Elements of Tragedy


Directions: Fill these notes to the brim with evidence from the play!
Term/Page # Quote/Response

Tragic Hero

Page #: ______
Line #: ______

Page #: ______
Line #: ______

Page #: ______
Line #: ______

Hamartia

Page #: ______
Line #: ______

Page #: ______
Line #: ______
Page #: ______
Line #: ______

Peripeteia
Page #: ______
Line #: ______

Page #: ______
Line #: ______

Page #: ______
Line #: ______

Anagnorisis
Page #: ______
Line #: ______

Page #: ______
Line #: ______

Page #: ______
Line #: ______

Dramatic Irony
Page #: ______
Line #: ______

Page #: ______
Line #: ______

Page #: ______
Line #: ______

Hubris
Page #: ______
Line #: ______
Page #: ______
Line #: ______

Page #: ______
Line #: ______

SOAPSToneS
Occasionally, we will use this reading strategy to go deeper with a shorter passage from the text.

Speaker Who is speaking? What do you know about this person from what youve
already read? What traits does the speaker exhibit in this passage? Are these
consistent with what you have previously seen or does it represent a shift?

Occasion What the time and place of the text? What is the occasion? Is this a response
to an event, a challenge, a situation, a conundrum? What is prompting the
speaker to speak in this way?

Audience Who is being spoken to? This can be to a character or characters in the work or
to reader or readers.

Purpose The reason behind the text and what is being said. What is the speaker trying
to convey with his or her words? What is the authors purpose in having the
speaker say this?

Subject What is being talked about? What is the general topic? What larger theme or
question is touched upon?

Tone What attitude is the author or speaker displaying? Look closely at their diction
(word choice), sentence structure, and any other elements that reveal tone.

Show us! Ideally using a creative method, share one or more key insights from the
SOAPStone process. Could a tableau, drawing, social media post, emoji story,
or Lego scene help us unlock the meaning of the scene?

Other Essential Questions for Discussion


In addition to Elements of Tragedy and SOAPStoneS, take note of your own questions inspired the play.
Some of these questions we approach using the claim, evidence, warrant, counterclaim, rebuttal method.
Who am I? Do I become a different person based on circumstances?
Does anyone bring about their own suffering, or are we caught up in an unavoidable fate?
How much influence do humans have over their own lives?
Is it always good to know the truth?
How do we grapple with the unfairness of the universe?
What is the best attitude or the right thing to do when facing difficult decisions?
How do we cope with our own tragedies? How do we stay true to ourselves and our beliefs
when bad things happen?
What words, images, or other elements occur frequently? Think of what they mean literally
and contrast what they might mean figuratively.
What are some universal themes or questions explored in this text? Where do these show
up? What opinions do characters express about these themes? What is the authors message?