Study Guide

Oedipus the King Power

By Sophocles


(Click the themes infographic to download.)

Sheesh. When is power ever a good thing in literature?

Power both corrupts and metaphorically blinds characters in the Oedipus the King. As a ruler, Oedipus is arrogant, unperceptive, and downright mean to people around him... even though he's acting for the always-nebulous "good of the people." Assuming other characters are trying to steal his power, Oedipus doesn't listen to their wisdom.

Questions About Power

  1. How is Oedipus the King at the beginning of the play different from Oedipus the cursed man at the end?
  2. What gives a character power in this play?
  3. Remember the Oedipus accuses Creon of plotting against him in order to get more power. Does Creon seem satisfied being the King's brother-in-law?

Chew on This

Oedipus’s downfall is only made possible because of his power as king. He suffers because of the power he possesses – the power that allows him to coerce others into speaking and extract the information he needs.