Oedipus Essay Topics

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DIRECTIONS: Choose one of the topics listed below, or develop one of your own, and write a well-organized essay analyzing how that topic is addressed in Oedipus Rex. Your essay should include analysis of what Sophocles says and how he says it, with specific quotations from the text. Remember that quotations must be in quotation marks and must not be “hanging” (standing alone) without explanatory language. Include page number in parenthesis. Primarily you will be analyzing how this play reflects universal themes, lessons applicable in all times and places. You may wish to compare Sophocles’ times with the present day, to highlight similarities or differences. If so, use specific modern examples to illustrate, in addition to text references. Be sure to give your essay an original title. Length should be 2-5 pages. POSSIBLE TOPICS: a. Fate—Do we make our own, or are we “playthings of the gods?” Does the Greek view of this question differ from our “modern” ideas? If so, how? b. Blindness—“There are none so blind as those who will not see.” c. Arrogance—Is too much self-esteem a bad thing? d. Temper—Does a “short fuse” blow up in one’s own face? e. Crime and Punishment—Did the “punishments” of Jocasta and Oedipus fit the crimes? Clearly, most of these topics will mainly involve a character analysis of Oedipus himself, though several might be best developed through contrasts with other characters such as Creon (c & d) or Tiresias (b). Topics a and e would also involve analysis of Jocasta’s actions. Key Organizational Concepts Introduction—Opening of your essay. Usually uses a strategy to gain readers’ interest (a quotation, a definition, an anecdote, questions, startling statements), followed by the thesis. In a literary essay like this one, if you can’t think of another way to start, begin either with a
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