Irony in Oedipus the King Essay

Irony in Oedipus the King Essay

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Irony in Oedipus the King

 
   When Sophocles wrote Oedipus the King, he knew that his audience would have some idea as to the outcome, his tale being a Greek tragedy which follows a strict form. Not wanting to write a predictable, bland play, Sophocles used this knowledge to his advantage and created various situations in which dramatic irony plays a key role. Dramatic irony is present when the tragic truth is revealed to the audience before it is revealed to the characters within the story. Through this use of irony, Sophocles succeeds in telling a fresh tale. Even though the audience knows how the story will end, they are intrigued by the presence of irony. By crafting irony into his tale, Sophocles gives the reader a desire to see how Oedipus is going to mentally react to the events that are sure to transpire.

            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. Whe...


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... truth, whereas when he blinded himself he knew the full truth of what the oracles had said. Sophocles successfully attained his objective in "Oedipus the King" through the use of dramatic irony. 

Works Cited and Consulted:

Abrams, M. H. A Glossary of Literary Terms, 7th ed. New York: Harcourt Brace College Publishers, 1999.

Ehrenberg, Victor. "Sophoclean Rulers: Oedipus." In Twentieth Century Interpretations of Oedipus Rex, edited by Michael J.

O'Brien. Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice-Hall, Inc., 1968.

Sophocles. Oedipus Rex. Transl. by F. Storr. no pag. Available:  http://etext.lib.virginia.edu/etcbin/browse-mixednew?tag=public&images=images/modeng&data=/texts/english/modeng/parsed&part=0&id=SopOedi

Yaeger, Werner. "Sophocles' Master of Dramatic Irony." In Readings on Sophocles, edited by Don Nardo. San Diego, CA: Greenhaven Press, 1997.
 

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