Oedipus the King
Oedipus the King
by Sophocles

Oedipus the King Tone

Take a story's temperature by studying its tone. Is it hopeful? Cynical? Snarky? Playful?

Tragic, Sympathetic, Foreboding, Ironic

It’s important to know Sophocles didn’t make the whole Oedipus story up. The Oedipus myth had been around, so Sophocles’s audience would have been familiar with the tragic ending before the play began. This has a distinct impact on the tone of the plays. The actions of the characters (think of Oedipus’s endless determination to solve the mystery of Laius’s murder) take on a sense of irony and foreboding in this context.

Because this play doesn't have a narrator, the tone is profoundly shaped by the commentary of the Chorus. The Chorus expresses genuine sympathy for the situations of the characters, yet at the same time is acutely aware of the upcoming events.

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