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Comparison/Contrast "Oedipus Rex" And The "Metamorphosis": A Comparison Between Kafka's And Sophocle's Use Of Dramatic Irony And Tragedy.

2006 words - 8 pages

In dramatic irony, the audience is more aware of the character's situation than the character himself. It involves a naive hero whose understanding of his surroundings is opposed to what is truly happening to him or her. What makes this ironic is that the author is creating a deluded main character in order to make the audience more aware of his reality. In both Sophocles' Oedipus Rex and Franz Kafka's Metamorphosis this method is used in order to create an ironic world for their hero, where neither Oedipus nor Gregor are fully informed of their tragic standing in their world. The use of dramatic irony in both of these works of literature is what leads to the main character's tragic end. In the Metamorphosis, Gregor never finds out the truth, arousing pity for the audience, while Oedipus does, which makes Frank Kafka's novel even more tragic and ironic than Oedipus-Rex.In order to state that Gregor Samsa's story is more tragic than Oedipus', one has to define what tragedy means. According to the official Online Dictionary tragedy is a "drama where the protagonist is overcome by some superior force or circumstance; excites terror or pity" ( The story of Gregor "excites" in the reader, dread, horror, and a sense of misfortune due to his circumstance. Gregor Samsa was at first a spineless salesman who was exploited by his family and one morning, turns into a vermin. Although Gregor feels shame for being a burden, he does not realize the reality of his situation: he does not realize that his family hates him. In Gregor's last breaths, he reflects upon his life and "thought back on his family with deep emotion and love" (Kafka, 54). Gregor has the illusion that his family still loves him regardless of his state, when in reality it is the opposite. Even the family member he most admires, his sister Grete, despises him, "It has to go...this animal persecutes us, drives the roomers way, obviously wants to occupy the whole apartment and for us to sleep in the gutter" (Kafka, 52) The irony of Grete's statement is that Gregor is utterly alone in his world: the person he loves the most from his family is disgusted by him. Oedipus the King also suffers a tragic downfall: at first he is a loved and respected king who finds out he has committed two treacherous crimes; he has killed his father and has married his mother. While Gregor was never loved by his family, Oedipus was cherished by his people and was claimed to be the savior of Thebes. When Oedipus realizes his sins, he still has the support of the city of Thebes, "He solved the famous riddle with his brilliance, he rose to power, a man beyond all power."(Sophocles, 251). Even though the Chorus knows what Oedipus did, they still admire his wit for solving the Sphinx' riddle. Oedipus receives help and reassurance from the Chorus, while Gregor is unable to have a mutual loving relationship with anyone in his life.The story of Oedipus and Gregor begin at...

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