Greek Drama had three main categories The Comedy, Satyr Plays, and The Tragedy. The most popular of the three is The Tragedy, its themes are often such as loss of love, complex relationships between men and the gods, and corruption of power. These dramas taught the people of the city the difference between good and bad behavior and the ramifications of going against the gods. According to Aristotle, the perfect tragedy consisted of the downfall of the hero through a great misunderstanding, causing suffering and awareness for the protagonist meanwhile making the audience feel pity and fear. The prominent writer who Aristotle based his perfect tragedy theory was Sophocles, his drama Oedipus the King had all the elements of a perfect tragedy. The most important tool Sophocles uses to bring these elements together is irony. Not only does the irony provoke emotions from the audience it also helps progress the plot of the play. Sophocles’ use of dramatic irony in Oedipus the King leads the audience to empathize with Oedipus, creating tension and foreshadowing the outcome of the play.
Sophocles uses dramatic irony from the beginning of the play to set up the twisted fate of Oedipus that is unbeknownst to him, but known to the audience. When Oedipus inquires “who is this man whose fate the god pronounces?” (1740) after this inquiry almost every statement made by Oedipus becomes ironic because he is referring to himself though he is yet to find out. The audience is aware that the more he looks into the murder of the former king Laius the worse it is going to be for him. Sophocles’ use of dramatic irony keeps the audience one step ahead of the protagonist so they are able to see the errors made by Oedipus. Because the audience has had t...
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...s becomes human, a tangible character that experiences the same emotions as everyday people. The thing that makes Oedipus even more human is that he is a victim of a fate assigned to him before he was born. He unknowingly carries out the prophecy destined for him which leads to the discovery that he was abandoned at birth by his biological parents; with this discovery a sense of his identity is taken from him. A character so arrogant normally does not receive empathy from the audience, however, he is still very much an innocent fragile human being punished for his father’s defiance. Sophocles used irony to bring a new twist to a familiar story. The use of irony keeps the audience ahead of the protagonist yet still eagerly awaiting his reaction to the obstacles before him; even though they know his fate the audience wants to see how he deals with his unfortunate fate.
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