SparkNotes divides "Oedipus the King" into five different sections, with each section offering a summary of the plot within the specified lines and a literary analysis of what the lines mean. The summary of each section details major events that are explicitly given in the text.
The summaries include actions the characters take, dialogue between characters, summaries of important speeches and details of the setting. For example, the first section summary, which covers lines 1-337 of the play, explains what Oedipus is doing at the start of the play, his interaction with the citizens outside of the palace, his conversations with Creon, the current situation in Thebes and the first speech of the Chorus.
The analysis of each section explores details and ideas that are not explicitly stated in the play. These include thoughts about individual characters, potential motivations behind characters' actions, what characters and objects represent, and how the author's intention is reflected in the play. For example, the first section discusses Oedipus' compassion, sense of justice and candor. It also explains that Oedipus represents everything an Athenian audience would desire in a leader. The analysis also notes that an audience in Sophocles' time would already know this story and discusses how Sophocles exploits this fact to foreshadow Oedipus' eventual fall.