Oedipus characters and Plot: Discuss classical dramatic aspects

Oedipus characters, Oedipus the King,  Plot, Thought, Diction, Spectacle

Oedipus the King 

Tragedy or classical drama is the Emulation of an act that is serious, expansion and the story should be complete to reveal universal truths. Aristotle’s, several important points are extremely valuable for understanding Greek tragic or classical drama. Classical drama should be a dramatic form rather than a narrative form and have to be an unhappy ending. According to him, the tragic drama has to include six elements. 

For example:

  1. Plot
  2. Characters
  3. Thought
  4. Diction
  5. Song
  6. Spectacle


Oedipus Plot
Oedipus Plot

The most inevitable part of the drama is its plot. It is the soul of tragedy. It is an arrangement of events in a tragedy like what happens and what happens after that to someone. The tragedy could be written without a character but not without a plot. The plot consists of storyline, settings, characters, actions, climax, conflicts, explanation, rising and falling action, etc. In other words, it is a series of events that should have a beginning, middle, and end.  Though these events are not told in chronological order but reorganized for dramatic effect. 

For example: 

The plot of Sophocles famous tragic play, Oedipus Rex can be used as an example.

The story is about Oedipus’s character, the King of Thebes. He was adopted by King Polybius and Queen Merope who were from the Corinth Kingdom. Oedipus went to Thebes from Corinth after the death of King Laius. On the way to Thebes, Oedipus met an animal at the crossroads where three roads meet. The animal was called Sphinx whose head was like that of a human and body was of a winged lion. Sphinx lives there and whenever he sees a passerby, he asks him/her a question. If the person answered wrong, Sphinx kills him/her. Sphinx told Oedipus if he answered correctly then Sphinx will be destroyed but if he gives the wrong answer, he will be killed. Sphinx asked him to tell the name of a living thing which walks on 4 legs in the morning, 2 legs in the afternoon, and 3 legs in the evening. Oedipus was not only strong but intelligent as well. He replied with the correct answer (Man) and saved the city from Sphinx. Because King Laius was dead and Thebes people were saved by Oedipus, they made him their King and according to the rules of Kingdom Thebes, the wife of the previous dead King Jocasta will be married to the new King. At that time Thebes was affected by the plague. To prevent the plague, Thebes people came to their new King for help. Then Oedipus called the high priest to know the ways of preventing plague. The priest suggested he send someone to consult Apollo.

Oedipus sent his brother-in-law Creon. After the consultation, Creon informed Oedipus that he needed to find out the killer of King Laius and avenge to save his people. However, no one knows. Then the Chorus of Thebes suggests he consult with the old, blind prophet Tiresias to find out what he knows. Tiresias came, but first, he refused to say what he knew. But after many requests, Tiresias says Oedipus himself was the cause. Oedipus became angry and accused him of plotting along with Creon to take over the throne. He orders Tiresias to leave, but before the prophet leaves he tells Oedipus that the killer is in Thebes, will become blind, and will turn out to be both the son and the husband of his mother. Queen Jocasta told Oedipus a prophecy that a son of hers will kill the king and they have killed their son to avoid the prophecy. Even she said that the king was killed at a place where three roads meet. Oedipus recognized the place and remembered that before his meeting with Sphinx, he had a fight with a novel person and his soldiers and he killed that man. Even he remembered that the Corinth King and Queen are not his real parents. Someone told him that he would bed his mother and kill his father. Then Oedipus met with a messenger who told him about his past and said that a shepherd who was a servant of Laius gifted him to the king and queen of Corinth. The same shepherd was the witness who killed king Laius. Finally, Oedipus realized that he is the husband and son of his mother and his children are his sister and daughter. After Knowing the truth, Queen Jocasta Committed suicide and Oedipus uses the brooches from her clothes and puts out his eyes. 

Discuss classical dramatic aspects of Oedipus the King part 2:

Oedipus characters: 

Oedipus characters
Oedipus characters

Character is the people in a play. Character drives the plot, just as the plot reveals characters. The plot depends on the character’s actions. According to Aristotle, the central goal of classical drama is not delimited human personalities, but to represent human action. 

For example Oedipus characters:

The characters of classical play name Oedipus Rex by Sophocles.  

Oedipus characters List

1. Oedipus

– central hero of the tragedy. Son of King Laius and Queen Jocasta. Eventually brought up in Corinth as a son of King Polybius and Queen Merope.

2. Jocasta

Another Oedipus characters Jocasta is the widow of King Laius of Thebes, and she is married to Oedipus.

3. Creon

Jocasta’s brother.

4. Tiresias

Tiresias an old, blind prophet who is consulted regarding the reason for the plague that torments the city of Thebes.

5. Sphinx

Mythical monster whose head was like a woman and the body was of a winged lion.

6. King Polybius and Queen Merope

Adopted parents of Oedipus. King and Queen of Corinth.

7. Antigone and Ismene

Daughter of Oedipus and Jocasta.

8. Messenger

An old man.

9. Servant

An old shepherd.


In a play, when characters thinking and feelings develop the plot is called thought. Thought expressed with dialogue by characters. Aristotle makes implicit that thought is the stuff that defines a character, whether he is good, bad, cunning, or stupid. 

For example: 

In Oedipus Rex, when the people of Thebes came to King Oedipus for help, Oedipus consulted the Priest and sent Creon to Apollo to know the reason and solution of the problem. After learning about both facts, Oedipus called for the blind prophet Tiresias and learned the truth many investigations later. Because he promised his people that he would avenge to help them, he punished himself. 

Here, Oedipus proved himself as a kind and good King who kept his promise and his thoughtful moves and feelings developed the plot.


Diction is the way and manner of language, by which the thoughts and feelings of the character are expressed or revealed. According to Aristotle diction is the expression of the meaning in words. The essence of both verse and prose is the same in diction.

For example:

The Chorus The way of their expressing thoughts and feelings is singing and dancing. According to the context of ancient Greek tragedy, they spoke their lines in a rhythmic pattern. Therefore, their expressing style is different from other characters in classical drama. 

Even, In Oedipus Rex’s play, it is noticeable that, whenever Chorus speaks to the King or the God, they speak in a singing style.  


Song creates a medium of tragedy. Some parts of the play are conducted with the singing of the chorus. It actually is the sound or rhythm of the dialogue. 

For example:

The chorus from the play Oedipus Rex. Chorus is a group of people who explained their feelings or event by singing in tragic drama.

When the high priest of the kingdom told Oedipus to consult with Apollo, Oedipus replied, he has already sent Creon. After returns to the palace, Creon informed Oedipus that he must find the killer of King Laius and avenge his death in order to prevent the plague. After that, the Chorus started to sings to Zeus-

“Oh sweet speaking voice of Zeus,

You have come to glorious Thebes from golden Python

but what is your intent?

That means, here, by singing the Chorus asking to Zeus, what he has in store for the people of Thebes.   


Spectacles’ major work is the decoration of the stage. So, it’s the dramatic effect on the stage. It also consists of physical torture, loud expression of great sorrow, colorful ornaments of the main characters, etc. For Aristotle, it was not important. To him, the inner structure of the play is important, not the fancy set of characters. 

For example:

In the last part of Oedipus Rex, when Oedipus learns that He killed his father, married her mother and his daughters are his sister, he uses Jocasta’s brooches from her cloth and puts out his eyes and Jocasta hangs herself. The scene of this part in the play on stage was the expression of great sorrow. 

You may read this helpful article Arms and the man summary: Analysis

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Aritro Sarkar

Aritro Sarkar Department English Bangladesh University As a student of english department it’s my duty to analysis the Poem, Novel, Play and others part of literature and spread it to others so that it can help them to understand it more efficiently. That’s why I analysis those things and share it with others through this site.

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