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What is the main idea of the story "Oedipus the King" by Sophocles and what is the the...

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hellokitty123 | Student, Grade 10 | eNotes Newbie

Posted February 10, 2009 at 9:21 AM via web

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What is the main idea of the story "Oedipus the King" by Sophocles and what is the the story all about?

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mrs-campbell | High School Teacher | (Level 1) Educator Emeritus

Posted February 10, 2009 at 9:37 AM (Answer #1)

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The story itself is told in a 3-part series of a play, of which "Oedipus the King" is the first part.  Oedipus is born to King Laius and Queen Jocasta, but there are strange prophecies that predict the newborn will kill his father and marry his mother.  So, in fear, they abandon the baby in the wilderness to die.  A kind shepherd takes the infant Oedipus and brings him to another royal family in Corinth, and he is raised well there.  But the prophecy follows him; Oedipus thinks that it is referring to his current household, so in fear of killing his adopted father and marrying his adopted mother, he flees.  But on his journey he ends up killing Laius, not knowing it is his father.  He then answers a riddle posed in the kingdom which wins him marriage to Jocasta, his mother.  He does not know any of this at the time.  Eventually, Jocasta figures it all out and kills herself.  Oedipus discovers the truth also and puts out his eyes from shame, and the play ends with him devastated and banished from the kingdom.

The main idea is that you cannot escape fate; and by attempting to, you only help it to happen.  I have provided a link to a more thorough summary and discussion below, and I hope this helps!

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