Seeing Oedipus Rex: Using the Chorus to Understand the Tragedy

bySara Delman

The main challenge for my AP Literature students when studying the Greek tragedy Oedipus Rex is reading and interpreting the chorus. It is densely worded and difficult, and I often get the feeling that students think of it almost as if it were a side note—one they don't really have to pay attention to in order to get the drift of the story. It's almost impossible to get them to ask questions about the chorus in order to find meaning, and in the past they've needed to have it spoon-fed to them. In this unit I'm attempting to teach Oedipus Rex by focusing mainly on the chorus and by teaching students about the important function of the chorus in classic Greek tragedy. I want both to pique their interest by uncovering the history of the chorus as well as comparing and contrasting the purpose of the chorus in classic tragedies with modern musicals that they are more familiar with. We will use images of the Greek theatre in addition to stills and clips from productions of Oedipus Rex and Broadway musicals to examine the role and function of the chorus in the tragedy.

(Recommended for Honors English, Grade 11 and 12; English, Grade 10-12)


Comments (1)

    Janell Smith (Francis Marion University, Florence, SC)
    Subject taught:
    Great Resource
    I am currently taking a freshman level literature course at Francis Marion. We are studying the play Oedipus the King. During my research I happened upon this site. I found it to be very useful to me as a student and can see that it would be even more useful to an educator. I am surprised this is the first comment. I believe there are ways to get this website introduced more broadly. This should be the priority. Having great info with no audience is worse than a waste of time.

Send us your comment