Oedipus Rex: Relevance to Theater and Life Today. The Oedipus Rex Essay Example

  • Category: Literature, Poem,
  • Words: 1275 Pages: 5
  • Published: 07 April 2021
  • Copied: 115

On page 65 of Oedipus Rex, Oedipus cries “He brought my sick, sick fate upon me. But the blinding hand was my own! How could I bear to see when all my sight was horror everywhere?” (Fittz and Fitzgerald). Often when there is mention of Oedipus people do not think of him as a good man, yet in reading this play many sympathize and feel bad for Oedipus. This is because every action made by Oedipus was made in ignorance. Oedipus was a highly respected kind, a friend to many, and a loving father. He believes he is doing the right thing when he marries Iocaste (the queen) who he was unaware is his birth mother. When Oedipus murders a man in the road who disrespects him, Oedipus feels bad but believes he does not know the man.

When Oedipus discovers that the man is his father and he married his mother he proceeds to gouge out both his eyes. Oedipus believes he does not deserve to see because the world he sees is horrible. The reason why so many people may sympathize with Oedipus even though he has committed so many immoral acts is, he was a moral person and if he had known what he was really doing he would have never done it. This play is relevant today because everyone can understand the concepts of death, morals, and suffering so we can relate and have empathy towards characters experiencing these things. 

The original author of this famous tragedy is Sophocles. Sophocles was born in 496 BCE in Colonus (right outside of the walls of Athens) and died in 406 BCE in Athens. He was born into a wealthy family so he received a very good education as a child. “His father,  Sophillus, was a wealthy manufacturer of armor.” (Taplin, 2013). There is no mention of Sophocles mother. Sophocles had three sons named Iophon, Sophocles, and Ariston. Iophon and Sophocles were born of his first wife Nicostrata. Whereas, Ariston was born of his second wife Theories. Sophocles was a jack of all trades. He got a good education where he did wrestling and music. While he was in school he won awards for both. “Tradition says that because of his beauty and talent, Sophocles was chosen to lead the male chorus at the celebration of the Greek victory over the Persians at Salamis.” (Sophocles Biography). Later in life he was even able to beat Aeschylus (the famous playwright) at the Dionysian dramatic festival in 468 B.C.E. This was the first of many drama festival victories. Also Sophocles was credited for the addition of a third actor in dramatic performance when in the past there were only two actors that would utilize doubling.

Oedipus Rex is arguably the best greek tragedy that we know of to date. Oedipus Rex is estimated to have been produced sometime around 429 B.C.E after a plague had infected Athens the year prior. This play takes place in the city of Thebes, a city that is threatened with total destruction. The main character of this tragedy, Oedipus, has a very chaotic life where he is born to a royal family. Then Oedipus was sent to be murdered in the woods because his father was told that Oedipus would eventually kill him and end up sharing a bed with his mother. This caused one of Liaus’ men to be ordered to murder him, but the man took pitty upon the child and sent Oedipus to live with a normal family in Corinth. This leads him to believe that the couple who raised him (Merope and Polybus) were his blood parents. Because of this belief, Oedipus is completely unaware that Jocasta is his birth mother and ends up marrying her, becoming king of Thebes, and having children with Jocasta. Thus, leading Oedipus back into a royal family. 

If I were to produce Oedipus on an endless budget I think the most important part of this show would be the set. I say this because in Oedipus Rex, there is a huge creature called The Sphinx. If I were to portray The Sphinx in a production of Oedipus Rex I would make a moving set piece where parts of The Sphinx could move, such as the mouth and tail, as well as have someone voice the character. Another reason the set would be the most important aspect of this play to me is, Most of the play takes place either inside or right outside of a royal castle. If there were a castle on set I believe it would make the play feel more like you are watching the story unfold instead of imagining it as an audience member or having just a backdrop of a castle. I would like to keep the play as it was originally written if I were to produce it because I believe that way it would be the most entertaining to audiences rather than trying to make it realistic and modern. If I had my choice of any famous broadway director to direct this performance it would be Casey Nicholaw.

Some of the reasons that I would choose Nicholaw to direct Oedipus are his choices of set designs, amazing costume designs, and his prior achievements as a director. Based on the set designs for Aladdin and Monty Python’s Spamalot, I believe Nicholaw would design a beautiful castle look for Oedipus and would be able to create a functional and appealing design for The Sphinx. In Aladdin Nicholaw has beautiful realistic structures built along with uniquely designed backdrops for different scenes; both of which cause an audience member to feel as if they are there in person watching as this story unfolds in real time. In Monty Python’s Spamalot, Nicholaw has this beautiful castle wall in the background of a scene that is grey and looks like it is made of stone bricks as well as a beautiful backdrop of a full castle. In both these shows in particular, Nicholaw has to use costumes fit for the distinct settings and time frames of these shows. The costumes that he chose for these productions not only fit the time period and location of the stories but also worked well together in color schemes and patterns for an audience's view.

Lastly, Casey Nicholaw has directed a multitude of successful/beloved productions ranging all the way from Mean Girls to The Book of Mormon. From just looking at pictures from both of these shows, I know that Casey Nicholaw would be a great director for this performance because of his prior experience with castle-like sets, unique costumes, and successful productions.

The play Oedipus Rex is relevant today because everyone can understand the concepts of death, morals, and suffering so we can relate and have empathy towards characters experiencing these things. Oedipus is a guy with good morals but is unaware of all the immoral things he is to do in his lifetime. Oedipus becomes the king of Thebes after he answers the Spinx’s riddle freeing Thebes from The Sphinx’s constant terror. Oedipus is made king by taking Jocasta, who unknown to Oedipus is actually his mother, as his wife. Jocasta’s late husband Liaus (Oedipus’ biological father) had sent Oedipus away to be murdered because of a prophecy. Oedipus was instead sent to live with Polybus and Merope, believing all his life that these were his biological parents up until killing Laius and marrying Jocasta. Once Oedipus discovers what he really had done he gouges his eyes out and leaves Thebes forever. We are able to sympathize with Oedipus because almost everything he does throughout the play is with honest and moral intent. We know that he wouldn’t have done the things he had done if he knew they were his parents in reality. Therefore Oedipus is still relevant because we are able to understand these moral concepts and sympathize with Oedipus for he had no idea the actions that he committed were so horrible.

Works Cited

Fittz, Dudley, and Robert Fitzgerald. Oedipus Rex an English Version. 1951, File:///C:/Users

/keele/ Downloads/Oedipus-Rex%20(3).pdf

Jones, Luc. “Understand 19 Of Broadway's Top Directors Right Now!” Theatre Nerds, 26 Mar. 

2019, theatrenerds.com/understand-19-of-broadways-top-directors-right-now/. 

“Oedipus Rex by Sophocles.” Greek Mythology, 2020, www.greekmythology.com/Plays/ 


“Sophocles Biography.” Encyclopedia of World Biography,www.notablebiographies.com/Sc-St 


Taplin, Oliver. “Sophocles.” Encyclopædia Britannica, Encyclopædia Britannica, Inc., 1998,   




We are glad that you like it, but you cannot copy from our website. Just insert your email and this sample will be sent to you.

By clicking “Send”, you agree to our Terms of service and Privacy statement. We will occasionally send you account related emails. x close