Oedipus Rex Lesson Plan

Instructor: Rachel Noorda
Use this lesson plan to help you engage students with learning about the Greek tragedy 'Oedipus Rex' by Sophocles. Students will learn how to identify themes, summarize plot, identify setting and characters, and understand vocabulary.

Learning Objectives

After this lesson, students will be able to do the following:

  • identify themes in Oedipus Rex by Sophocles
  • summarize the plot of Oedipus Rex
  • identify the setting of Oedipus Rex
  • name main characters from Oedipus Rex


60-90 minutes

Curriculum Standards

  • CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RL.11-12.2

Determine two or more themes or central ideas of a text and analyze their development over the course of the text, including how they interact and build on one another to produce a complex account; provide an objective summary of the text.

  • CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RL.11-12.3

Analyze the impact of the author's choices regarding how to develop and relate elements of a story or drama (e.g., where a story is set, how the action is ordered, how the characters are introduced and developed).

  • CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RL.11-12.4

Determine the meaning of words and phrases as they are used in the text, including figurative and connotative meanings; analyze the impact of specific word choices on meaning and tone, including words with multiple meanings or language that is particularly fresh, engaging, or beautiful.


  • Copies of the lesson Oedipus Rex by Sophocles: Summary, Theme & Analysis, one for each student
  • Index cards with key vocabulary terms
  • Popsicle sticks
  • Paper
  • Markers/colored pencils/crayons
  • Glue and scissors
  • List of quotes from the play, said by varying characters

Key Vocabulary

  • Catharsis
  • Peripeteia
  • Fate
  • Prophecy
  • Dramatic irony
  • Tragic hero


NOTE: This lesson is designed for a class that has read the play Oedipus Rex by Sophocles.

  • Divide the class into groups.
  • Have your class read the lesson Oedipus Rex by Sophocles: Summary, Theme & Analysis.
  • Ask each group to compose a Tweet to summarize the story of Oedipus Rex. Like a real Tweet, the summary can be no longer than 140 characters. Have each group choose a representative to read their Tweet to the rest of the class.
  • Next, as a class, identify the main characters of Oedipus Rex.
  • In their groups, have the students pretend that they are casting a new movie of Oedipus Rex. What famous actors would they cast for each of the main characters? Why?
  • Have a representative of each group come up and pick one of the vocabulary word index cards. As a class, define the term. Write key points from students' definitions on the board for reference.
  • In their groups, have the students think of how the vocabulary word applies to Oedipus Rex.
  • Ask a representative from each group share what they found with the class.

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