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

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D. Reynolds eNotes educator | Certified Educator

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The two main ideas of the play are these: the first is that that we are blinded by our own pride. This is called hubris, and it is what Oedipus suffers from. The second idea is that we can't escape our destiny.

It is foretold that Oedipus will murder his father and marry his mother. To try to prevent this fate, his parents place the infant outside to be exposed and die. He is, however, saved and raised in Corinth. He has no idea who his real parents are. He thinks they are the people who raised him. Therefore, when he hears the prophecy, he flees Corinth in horror.

On the road, he meets and kills his father, not knowing who he is. When he arrives at Thebes, he solves the riddle of the sphinx and becomes king. He marries his mother Jocasta, not knowing she is his mother. When a plague comes to Thebes because of his sins—killing his father and marrying his mother—Oedipus has too much hubris to imagine he could be the cause of the plague. He has to accept finally that he has not been...

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