Oedipus the King

Oedipus the King

Length: 1113 words (3.2 double-spaced pages)

Rating: Excellent

Open Document

Essay Preview

More ↓
Oedipus Rex, by Sophocles, (as translated by Dudley Fitts and Robert Fitzgerald), is replete with dramatic devices - one of which is known as Sophoclean Irony. Sophoclean Irony can be divided into two terms: unconscious and conscious irony. Unconscious irony occurs when a character speaks what he believes is the truth, but the audience (fore-armed with knowledge of the truth) knows that it is not. Conscious irony is evident when a character knows the truth but is reluctant to reveal it: thus, he speaks cryptic lines deliberately intended to be ironic. Both types of irony will be examined in this paper and passages from the text will be cited in support of this thesis.

At the moment of his birth, Oedipus received a reading from the Delphic Oracle which stated that the baby was destined to grow up to murder his father and marry his mother. Shocked, his parents (King Laios and Queen Locaste of Thebes) try to circumvent Hera's curse by turning the infant over to a loyal servant (The Theban Shepherd) to take to the top Mt. Cithaeron to be killed. After nailing his ankles together and leaving him to die of the elements, the old shepherd relents and hands the child over to a traveling shepherd from Corinth to take back to the childless King and Queen to raise as their own son. For the next twenty years, Laios and Locaste rule in Thebes believing their son to be dead. Unfortunately, Hera sends a drought associated with a sphinx to bedevil Thebes.

A desperate Laios travels back to the Delphic Oracle for a reading.Meanwhile, back in Corinth, Oedipus grows to manhood believing Polybos and Merope (the King and Queen of Corinth) are his real parents. Soon, he too learns of his horrible fate and seeking to avoid it, he flees hi supposed homeland. As fate would have it, along the road, Oedipus meets Laios and kills him in a fit of rage. Thus, he has unwittingly fulfilled the first half of the prophecy. Traveling on to Thebes, Oedipus saves the city from the drought by solving the riddle of the sphinx.

Declared the new King, he marries the widowed Queen (Locaste) - his mother. Thus, he has unknowingly fulfilled the second half of the prophecy. For the next two decades, Oedipus rules successfully in Thebes until Hera sends a second drought to plague the city.

How to Cite this Page

MLA Citation:
"Oedipus the King." 123HelpMe.com. 16 Dec 2018

Need Writing Help?

Get feedback on grammar, clarity, concision and logic instantly.

Check your paper »

Oedipus The King Of Oedipus Essay examples

- In Oedipus Tyrannus, the cultural way of thinking has been challenged by Oedipus himself and also the queen of Thebes, Jocasta. Oedipus is a king of Thebes who claimed himself to be incredibly smart for solving the riddles and he has helped the city who happened to be falling apart from the missing of their king. While in searching for the murderer of Laius, Oedipus called upon the presence of Teresias – the blind prophet. Oedipus requested Teresias to inform him about the truth that he knew about the secrets of the heaven and the earth (Sophocles, 1970)....   [tags: Oedipus, Oedipus the King, Socrates, Crito]

Research Papers
833 words (2.4 pages)

Oedipus The King Of Oedipus Essay

- In the epic, Oedipus serves as the king of Thebes, who is told by many of a prophecy that he will kill his father and marry his mother. Also, he will have children who will also be his siblings. In Oedipus the King, Oedipus exemplifies his anger, hubris and status in very specific ways. When Oedipus sends for Tiresias the blind prophet to inform him of what he knows about the murder. Oedipus becomes angry that Tiresias will not tell hi. He goes as far as to blame Tiresias as the cause of the murder....   [tags: Oedipus, Oedipus the King, Tiresias, Tragic hero]

Research Papers
1328 words (3.8 pages)

Essay about Oedipus The King Of Oedipus

- Tragically Flawed While his intentions were well meaning in the beginning, Oedipus finds himself weighed down by his own flaws. Tragically his flaws cause him to lose focus of his true objectives and damn himself to a life of misery. The tale of Oedipus depicts his rapid descent from Oedipus, savior and king of Thebes to Oedipus Tyrannus the man who slew his father and married his mother. Since Oedipus has so many tragic flaws there is a plethora to choose from. However, if Oedipus’s tragic traits could be described with two words it would be arrogant and imperceptive....   [tags: Oedipus, Oedipus the King, Tragic hero, Sophocles]

Research Papers
1291 words (3.7 pages)

The Punishment of Oedipus the King (Oedipus Rex) Essay

- The Punishment of Oedipus the King At the end of Sophocles' Oedipus Rex, Oedipus, king of Thebes, ends up banished forever from his kingdom. Additionally, Oedipus physically puts out his own eyes, for several reasons which will be discussed later. The question is: Did Oedipus deserve his punishments. There are many factors that must be considered in answering this, including how Oedipus himself felt about his situation. His blinding was as much symbolic as it was physical pain....   [tags: Oedipus the King Oedipus Rex]

Free Essays
1180 words (3.4 pages)

tragoed Elements of Tragedy in Oedipus the King (Oedipus Rex) Essay

- Elements of Tragedy in Oedipus Rex It is not the tragic subject matter of the text that is of primary interest - but rather the manner in which the plot is developed. The story line progresses as if the reader is "unpeeling an onion." The tale of King Oedipus is well known. An enraged Oedipus unknowingly slays his father (Laiusq, King of Thebes) and supplants him as monarch and as husband to his own mother (Queen Jocasta). As each successive "layer of the onion" is unpeeled, Oedipus is brought a step closer to realizing the true nature of his actions....   [tags: Oedipus the King Oedipus Rex]

Free Essays
463 words (1.3 pages)

tragoed Oedipus the King (Oedipus Rex) as Greek Tragedy Essay

- Oedipus The King as Greek Tragedy The genre of drama is wide and contains works of varied forms and subjects. The first drama, on which all later works are based, developed in Greece and dealt with religious and social issues. According to AristotleÕs The Poetics, a Greek Tragedy must deal with a serious purpose, arousing a sense of pity or fear in the audience. The emphasis must be on plot over character development and the playwright must utilize suspense and unity of time, place and action....   [tags: Oedipus the King Oedipus Rex]

Free Essays
870 words (2.5 pages)

Essay about tragoed The Tragic Figure of Oedipus the King (Oedipus Rex)

- The Tragic Figure of Oedipus Rex      Sophocles is perhaps one of the greatest tragedians ever. Sophocles said that a man should never consider himself fortunate unless he can look back on his life and remember that life without pain. For Oedipus Rex, looking back is impossible to do without pain. This pain stems from his prideful life. Oedipus is aware that he alone is responsible for his actions. Oedipus freely chooses to pursue and accept his own life's destruction. Even though fate victimizes Oedipus, he is a tragic figure since his own heroic qualities, his loyalty to Thebes, and his fidelity to the truth ruin him....   [tags: Oedipus the King Oedipus Rex]

Research Papers
932 words (2.7 pages)

Essay on tragoed Oedipus the King (Oedipus Rex) and Greek Tragedy

- Oedipus Rex as a Great Greek Tragedy     The reader is told in Aristotle's Poetics that tragedy "arouses the emotions of pity and fear, wonder and awe" (The Poetics 10). To Aristotle, the best type of tragedy involves reversal of a situation, recognition from a character, and suffering. The plot has to be complex, and a normal person should fall from prosperity to misfortune due to some type of mistake. Oedipus Rex, by Sophocles, is a great example of a Greek tragedy. Its main plot is Oedipus' goal to find out his true identity, the result being his downfall by finding out he has married his own mother and killed his father....   [tags: Oedipus the King Oedipus Rex]

Research Papers
1016 words (2.9 pages)

Essay about Oedipus as Scapegoat in Oedipus the King

- Oedipus as Scapegoat in Oedipus the King        The great psychologist-philosopher Carl Jung was briefly a student of Freud. Because Jung felt that Freud's approach to psychoanalysis was by far too narrow, he broke off from his teachings, and made significant contributions to mythological criticism. Jung's greatest contribution was his theory of archetypes. His proposal of archetypes argues that there is one original pattern or model of all things of the same type. According to Jung, beneath the personal unconscious is a collective unconscious that is in the psychic inheritance of all humans....   [tags: Oedipus the King Oedipus Rex]

Research Papers
1496 words (4.3 pages)

Essay Oedipus the King

- Oedipus the King The uniqueness of the story of Oedipus the King lies in the fact that it is not told, but uncovered. Intertwined within are the workings of fate, which ultimately propel the uncovering of the story (Driver 247). The past is relied upon to solve the mystery of the present; however, it is learned by all that actions taken in the past will not change the fate of the future. The gods of Sophocles are the forces which operate within the cosmos, thus giving its consistency and order....   [tags: Oedipus the King Oedipus Rex]

Free Essays
394 words (1.1 pages)

Related Searches

After sending his brother-in-law, Creon, back to the Delphic oracle for a reading, Oedipus learns that the second drought will not be lifted until Laios' killer is found and punished.

An over-confident King takes charge of the investigation. At this point, Sophocles begins his play. Our first example of unconscious irony can be seen in a discussion about Laios by Oedipus and Creon. Oedipus says about Laios: "I know: I learned of him from others: I never saw him." (pg. 862, lines 108-109). This passage constitutes unconscious irony as Oedipus believes that he is speaking the truth - that he never met Laios.

Of course, the audience, armed with fore-knowledge, know that it is not. Oedipus not only has met Laios (his real father), he killed him at the crossroads "where three highways meet." Our second example of unconscious irony occurs a little in the same scene. Oedipus states that:Then once more I must bring what is dark to light. It is most fitting that Apollo shows, as you do, this compunction for the dead.

You shall see how I stand by you as I should, to avenge the city and the city's god, and not as though it were some distant friend, but for my own sake, to be rid of evil. Whoever killed King Laios might who knows? Decide at any moment to kill me as well. By avenging the murdered King I protect myself. (pg.

863, lines 133-142)Here, Oedipus refers to the fact the whoever killed Laios might someday attempt to kill Oedipus. Thus, ironically, he feels that by finding the killer of Laios, he will be protecting himself. Of course, this is nonsense. He is unaware that his finding of Laios' killer will not protect him - but destroy him. Our third example of unconscious irony is evident later in scene I, when the King ironically condemns himself with his own proclamation:I make this proclamation to all Thebans:if any man knows by whose hand Laios , son of Labdakos, met his death, I direct that man to tell me everything, no matter what he fears for having so long withheld it.

Let it stand as promised that no further trouble will come to him, but he may leave the land in safety. (pg. 865, lines 10-15)This passage constitutes unconscious irony as he condemns himself later in the play. He thinks that he is condemning the kill he is looking for. Our first example of conscious irony occurs later in scene I. Again, following Creon's advice, Oedipus decides to consult Tiresias, a famed blind prophet.

Armed with mystical ability, Tiresias knows the truth about Oedipus' horrible fate. He knows that the King is doomed so he is reluctant to reveal what he knows. As he enters the stage, the old man says:How dreadful knowledge of the truth can be when there is no help in truth. I know this well, but did not act on it. Else I should not have come. (pg.

868, lines 101-104)Since he knows how horrible the truth is about Oedipus' fate, he is reluctant to reveal it. Thus, he speaks lines deliberately intended to be ironic. Of course, Oedipus misinterprets Tiresias' reluctance and begins to badger the old man. Our second example of conscious irony occurs moments later in the conversation when Tiresias know that Oedipus has no free will: "What does it matter?/ Whether I speak or not, it is bound to come!" (pg. 868, lines 120-121).

These lines are spoken in a cryptic fashion deliberately intended to obscure the truth. Our third example of conscious irony takes place in scene III. After a visit by the Corinthian shepherd, Locaste has figured out the truth about Oedipus. She has crossed over from ignorance to knowledge.

Now she tries desperately to stop Oedipus from further investigation into his past: "For god's love, let us have no more questioning;/ is your life nothing to you?/ My own is pain enough for me to bear." (pg. 885, lines 140-142). She speaks cryptic lines here deliberately intended to obscure the truth. In the play, Oedipus Rex, by Sophocles (as translated by Dudley Fitts and Robert Fitzgerald), the playwright uses a dramatic device known as Sophoclean Irony. Both types of irony have been defined and passages were cited from the text in support of the thesis.
Return to 123HelpMe.com