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Dramatic Irony In Sophocles' Oedipus The King

974 words - 4 pages

Dramatic Irony in Sophocles' Oedipus the King

Oedipus the King is a Greek tragedy written by Sophocles.  Sophocles knowing that his audience is aware of the outcome of the play utilizes that knowledge to create various situations in which dramatic irony play key roles.  Dramatic irony is when the audience knows the tragic truth before the characters do.  Through his use of irony Sophocles manages to avoid  retelling an old tale, though the audience is cognizant of the story's end they are intrigued by the irony present in the story.  Sophocles made liberal use of irony. By doing this he tantalized the viewer into wanting to see how the events that occurred later would mentally affect the main character, in this case Oedipus.

            Oedipus is self-confident, intelligent, and strong willed. Ironically these are the very traits which bring about his tragic discovery.  Because of these traits Oedipus was able to solve the riddle given to him by the Sphinx.  When this riddle was solved he acquired great popularity and power.  He was then challanged into a riddle of his own where he had to find out the truth of his past and the fate of his future.  By solving this riddle he lost all the power and glory, left to be exiled and become a beggar in another land.  If Oedipus had not been so determined to escape and prevent the prophecy by the Oracle, he would not have fulfilled it. Possibly, he was doomed to fulfill the prophecy because he believed he could avoid it. Nevertheless, his fate was sealed by his actions of pride and determination. His pride of conquering the Sphinx led him to the marriage of Jocasta, his mother. When avenging Jocasta's previous husband, and his true father, King Laius' death, he was blinded by his pride to the concept that perhaps he was the murderer.

            Two of the most note worthy parts of Dramatic Irony in Oedipus the King is how both Jocasta and Oedipus are trying to differ the prophecy of the Oracle.  In both cases, the Oracle's prophecy comes true regardless of the characters' actions.   Jocasta and Laius's thought of successfully killing their child at birth so the Oracle's prophecy could not happen and Oedipus's believing that if he fled Corinth, he would not be able to kill his father. Jocasta kills her son only to find him alive and married to her. Oedipus leaves Corinth only to find that in doing this he has found his real parents and carried out the oracle's words.   Oedipus strongly believes that he has beaten the prophecy, only to find that the oracles were right after all.  Even the manner in which Oedipus and Jocasta express their disbelief in the Oracle is ironic. In an attempt to comfort Oedipus, Jocasta tells him that the Oracle is powerless; yet at the beginning of the very...

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