• Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

How far do you agree that Sophocles "Oedipus the King" is nothing more than a detective story? In your answer, you should consider events in the play and the themes which Sophocles explores.

Extracts from this document...


Sarah Beck 12R How far do you agree that Sophocles "Oedipus the King" is nothing more than a detective story? In your answer, you should consider events in the play and the themes which Sophocles explores. The play "Oedipus the King" is a Greek tragedy written by Sophocles in the early days of antiquity and is based upon an ancient story in Greek mythology. It was written around a time when Rome was in power and Athens was the centre of the world. In this time, people believed that the Gods controlled all and that fate and destiny could never be escaped. Based on the title of this essay, I do believe that the play "Oedipus the King" contains some of the qualities that a detective story holds, however I do not think it entirely mirrors one. As with any story, a good plot is essential. It is just as important for the effectiveness of the tale that the plot structure supports the plot and compliments it well. There are two types of plot structures, simple and complex. A simple plot structure is defined as being continuous and unitary but has a transformation, which occurs without any reversal or recognition. The reversal of a plot is defined as a complete swing in the direction of the action. This reversal is shown in "Oedipus the King" when the messenger who comes bringing news with the intention of helping the situation. Instead, he proves to be the start of many bad things to come. ...read more.


We see how Oedipus has changed and we see the dramatic irony of how he actually is alike Tiresias now, the blind seer prophet. Earlier in the play, when Tiresias revealed the truth to Oedipus, he did not believe it and called Tiresias blind. The irony here is that sight has two meanings. Oedipus was blessed with the gift of perception, as he was the only man who could solve the Sphinx's riddle, yet he could not see what was right before his eyes. This shows him as blind to the truth. Yet Tiresias, an old, blind man shows his presence in the play to be very important. He foresees Oedipus' own future causing Oedipus to mock him, showing even more dramatic irony to the audience. Tiresias is a man who understands the truth without the use of his sight; later Oedipus is quite the contrary. He is a sighted man who is blind to see the truth right before him. Further on in the play, Oedipus switches roles with Tiresias, becoming a man who sees the truth and loses his sense of sight. The theme of sight and blindness is introduced again, ultimately ending in dramatic irony as Oedipus will eventually end up blinding himself. It is true that the audience know Oedipus is the murderer, proving it not to be a detective story. However, as the Gods and fate were against Oedipus from the start, is it really a murder that he committed or could it be manslaughter? ...read more.


There are views about the God's, given to us by characters in the play. It shows their contact with the characters through oracles and how they depend on the meaning of them. Could this be compared to how we compare our lives with the horoscopes we read? However vague and ambiguous the horoscopes are, we aim to make the events fit to them. This can lead to problems though, as shown by the character Jocasta, who shows that having guidance from a God or an oracle doesn't always help you in your future. Due to the way that "Oedipus the King" seems to incorporate all the things I have discussed, it would seem that this play is an example of Greek tragedy at its best. The play stirs up the emotions and rouses sympathy for the characters and its protagonist. It motivates the audience and readers by arising questions, and uses devices that utilise the suspense and the effect of dramatic irony. It is true that many of the aspects of this play could maybe conclude in it being classed as a detective story. Although there are some points that could class it as one I do not consider it entirely a detective story. This is due to the fact that the audience is already aware of Oedipus' fate at the start of the play; they can already see the dramatic irony that Oedipus cannot see. I think that Sophocles is trying to engage his audience, trying to make them wonder and question aspects of the play. He indeed enforces some important lessons, but overall I think that "Oedipus the King" is much more than just a detective story. ...read more.

The above preview is unformatted text

This student written piece of work is one of many that can be found in our AS and A Level Classics section.

Found what you're looking for?

  • Start learning 29% faster today
  • 150,000+ documents available
  • Just £6.99 a month

Not the one? Search for your essay title...
  • Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

See related essaysSee related essays

Related AS and A Level Classics essays

  1. Fate and Ignorance in Oedipus Rex.

    This occurs because the audience views actions on the stage that, if they were to occur in their individual lives, would be harmful (Shaw, 48). When they see these actions they are essentially on the same level as the characters and realize that if they were in the same situation

  2. "In Oedipus the king it is impossible to escape the control of the gods" ...

    Although cursed with blindness for he "lives in perpetual night", Teiresias may exercise his own wish in his actions and is not restricted in his ultimate fate by the workings of the gods. Creon, jocata's brother and Oedipus' brother in law and uncle, has all the rights of a royal

  1. Jason behaves so badly that it is impossible for us to sympathise with his ...

    from Jason himself; perhaps putting him up on our sympathy scale for the fact that he is so clueless of what will become of him. The fact that the Chorus loses sympathy for Medea almost entirely as she kills her children would also bring our sympathies for Jason up, seeing

  2. Was Julius Caesar an effective leader?

    There is another clear contrast, Caesar ruled for the people of Rome not the nobility; he wiped debts and procured land for all veterans. But does this make him an effective leader? We would certainly view him as a progressive politician, but that does not necessarily mean that he was right.

  1. How far do you feel that Aeschylus intended us to feel that Agamemnon deserved ...

    well that every second spent on the battlefield put their lives at risk. Even the king himself was prepared to die for the cause. Indeed, we can see some sense of justice in Agamemnon, amongst his multitude of undesirable characteristics.

  2. Beowulf - Main Ideas and Themes

    Life and Death- Beowulf, the hero of the poem Beowulf, was often faced with life or death situations. Beowulf made many choices in the poem that could have easily lead him straight to the grave, fortunately for him the event that did lead to his death did not come till very late in his life.

  1. Odysseus has no real feelings for the female characters he encounters on his travels. ...

    waist and instructs him to throw it into the sea when he touches dry land. Odysseus at first does not trust her. He takes 'counsel with his indomitable soul' and says, 'I am afraid this is one of the immortals setting a snare to catch me, with her advice to abandon my raft.

  2. Cinderella - play script

    She jumps back and drops all her packages) Prince: Are you all right, miss? (running to her aid) Cinderella: Yes, I'm fine, I think. Prince: (He picks up one of the very strange looking hats Cinderella was carrying and looks at it for a second)

  • Over 160,000 pieces
    of student written work
  • Annotated by
    experienced teachers
  • Ideas and feedback to
    improve your own work