Dramatic Irony In Oedipus The King

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Sophocles’ Oedipus Rex, the dramatic tragedy of a cursed king, describes the flawed character of a tragic hero through many literary elements to evoke catharsis upon its third person audience. At his birth, the gods bestow a particular curse upon Oedipus that would lead to future utter destruction upon himself and those surrounding him. His presence as king implants famine, barrenness, and disease upon Thebes and its people. However, Oedipus is not always aware that he is the pollution of the land, even when the audience is. The irony and theme throughout the tragedy of Oedipus help describe the character of Oedipus himself, thus identifying his tragic flaws of ignorance, arrogance, and anger that ultimately lead to his destruction.
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There are several specific circumstances throughout Oedipus that Sophocles purposefully includes to help the audience to mentally illustrate his tragic hero. The first instance of irony that can be observed is that of dramatic irony. The audience knows Oedipus is the murder of king Laius, but he, himself, does not. This is also the first instance the audience recognizes Oedipus’ flawed characteristic of ignorance. The next ironic situation the audience sees unfold is when Teiresias calls Oedipus out on many things in his life that should make him realize that he is the murderer, but he refuses to make the connection. Also, because of his ignorance, the prophet calls Oedipus mentally blind, when the prophet himself is physically blind (428-430). This is ironic because there are two different instances of blindness in that room together. Eric Hibbison, a professor at J. Sargeant Reynolds Community College in Richmond, Virginia, states, “Tiresias is literally blind while Oedipus is 'blind' towards his prophecies. Oedipus will eventually blind himself but he is being ignorant towards his own future” in order to clarify the meaning behind Teiresias’ words toward Oedipus. For now, Oedipus is only mentally blind, but his future holds for him the same fate of the prophet: eternal
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