Oedipus essay dramatic irony

Dramatic Irony in Oedipus Essay

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In the play written by Sophocles, Oedipus the King, there are several instances of irony. Dramatic irony, or tragic irony as some critics would prefer to call it, usually means a situation in which the character of the play has limited knowledge and says or does something in which they have no idea of the significance. The audience, however, already has the knowledge of what is going to occur or what the consequences of the characters actions will be. The degree of irony and the effect it has depends upon the readers’ grasp and recognition of some discrepancy between two things.

Our first taste of dramatic irony comes very early into the play when Oedipus vows to bring to justice the killer of Laius, which is in reality himself. When he learns that the bringing of justice of Laius’ killer will rid the city of a terrible plague, he sets forth with a plan to track down the killer. Oedipus begins to curse the killer and vows:

Oedipus: As for the criminal, I pray to God –

Whether it be a lurking thief, or one of a number –

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I pray that that man’s life be consumed in evil and wretchedness.

And as for me, this curse applies no less (968)

This is very ironic, as Oedipus is indeed, without knowledge of the truth, talking about himself.

Another example of dramatic irony is the power of fate and Oedipus’ powerlessness against it. Throughout the play we are aware of Oedipus’ fate and we realize there is nothing that he can do to change it. When Oedipus tells his city after listening to their plea for help against the terrible sickness and plague that has taken over the city:

Oedipus: I know that you are deathly sick; and yet,

Sick as you are, not one is as sick as I. (963)

The audience understands the truth and the irony in that statement. Oedipus should not worry about himself becoming ‘sick’ for he is already infested with the sickness.

A third example of the irony of Oedipus is the fact that Oedipus seemed to be blind and deaf to the truth. He appears to be on a valiant search for the truth and justice of the killer of Laius, yet refuses to hear the truth when it is spoken to him. In order to hear the truth Oedipus needed to be able to hear and interpret it, yet he only heard what he wanted to hear. Therefore rendering him unable to understand the mystery of who he truly was.

In this play there seems to be a constant string of ironies throughout. Oedipus is in denial of the truth. In his dramatic speeches he misconstrues the information that he has been given by Teiresias, as well as Creon and Iocaste. The horrifying realization that the prophecy of the Sphinx is in fact the truth, causes Oedipus to blind himself. The audience therefore pities him, which is a result of the use of dramatic irony. The use of irony in a play allows the writer to make their audience want to see how the events which are occurring, mentally affect the main character, even if they already know how the story will end, as in Oedipus the King.

Kennedy, X. J., and Gioia Dana. “Oedipus the King” Literature: An Introduction to

Fiction, Poetry, and Drama. 2nd edition. New York: Addison Wesley Longman,

Patrycja Zyzik

Education is learning what you didn’t even know you didn’t know.

Essay on the Irony of Oedipus The King

Throughout the play Oedipus The King Sophocles uses irony. His uses of irony suppose to show the reader what kind of a person Oedipus really is. By the use of irony we as readers can better understand why Oedipus is stubborn to learn about his past and that nothing good comes out of it. He uses many examples in the story to demonstrate irony. He talks about Creons message, Tiresias visit in his castle, and Jocastas conversation and revelation of the events to present the irony.

One example of irony in the play is when Oedipus responds to Creon’s message on how to get rid of the plague. Creon says that they have to find a murderer of Laius and punish him. In replay Oedipus starts the search for any clues that may lead him to the murderer and puts a curse on the man who killed Laius. “As for the murderer himself, I call down a curse on him …” (15) Not until later in the play he learns that he made a big mistake because he cursed himself when he realizes that he is the killer of Laius.

Sophocles use dramatic irony in the exchange of words between Oedipus and Tiresias. Tiresias is called to the castle to tell Oedipus the potential killer but he refuses to tell him the truth. In response to that Oedipus gets angry and he starts to insult Tiresias by saying “You are blind, your ears and mind as well as eyes” (23). The irony in this quote is that Oedipus calls Tiresias blind when he sure is, but he is blind himself too. They are both blind, one is physically blind and the other is blind about his identity, and he surely does not see it. Also at the end of the story when Oedipus finds out the truth he blinds himself.

Next example of irony is Jacosta’s conversation with Oedipus which upsets him. Jacosta is telling Oedipus the story about the prophecy and the baby. She tells him that the prophet is not telling the truth and that the prophecy will not come true because Laius cast away the baby after it was born. She also mentions the place where Laius was murdered, “at a place where three highways meet” (41). That sentence upsets Oedipus because he remembers being in a place just like it and he starts to fear that he might be the killer. The irony is that Jacosta assures Oedipus that the prophecy will not come true, while the prophecy is fulfilling itself. Because he survived and he married Jocasta and had four children with her.

Another big irony that Sophocles uses in the text is about the messenger. The messenger is the one who saved Oedipus’ life and he also becomes the one to bring his downfall. “Because Polybus was not related to you in any way” (56). The messenger thinks that he is helping Oedipus by revealing to him the truth about his real parents. He brings him good news but at the same time he brings him bad news as well.

Oedipus learns that he was blind not to see the warnings that people have given him not to seek his identity. The use of irony shows that at the beginning he was too proud to see the truth about himself. As more and more information is being given to him he realizes that he has cursed himself and that he is the most unfortunate men in the world.

Dramatic Irony in Oedipus Essay Paper

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In the drama written by Sophocles. Oedipus the King. there are several cases of sarcasm. Dramatic sarcasm. or tragic sarcasm as some critics would prefer to name it. normally means a state of affairs in which the character of the drama has limited cognition and says or does something in which they have no thought of the significance. The audience. nevertheless. already has the cognition of what is traveling to happen or what the effects of the characters actions will be. The grade of sarcasm and the consequence it has depends upon the readers’ appreciation and acknowledgment of some disagreement between two things.

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Our first gustatory sensation of dramatic sarcasm comes really early into the drama when Oedipus vows to convey to justice the slayer of Laius. which is in world himself. When he learns that the delivery of justness of Laius’ killer will free the metropolis of a awful pestilence. he sets forth with a program to track down the slayer. Oedipus begins to cuss the slayer and vows:

Oedipus: As for the condemnable. I pray to God –

Whether it be a lurking stealer. or one of a figure –

I pray that that man’s life be consumed in immorality and misery.

And as for me. this expletive applies no lupus erythematosus ( 968 )

This is really dry. as Oedipus is so. without cognition of the truth. speaking about himself.

Another illustration of dramatic sarcasm is the power of destiny and Oedipus’ impotence against it. Throughout the drama we are cognizant of Oedipus’ destiny and we realize there is nil that he can make to alter it. When Oedipus tells his metropolis after listening to their supplication for aid against the awful illness and pestilence that has taken over the metropolis:

Oedipus: I know that you are deathlike ill ; and yet.

Sick as you are. non one is every bit ill as I. ( 963 )

The audience understands the truth and the sarcasm in that statement. Oedipus should non worry about himself going ‘sick’ for he is already infested with the illness.

A 3rd illustration of the sarcasm of Oedipus is the fact that Oedipus seemed to be unsighted and deaf to the truth. He appears to be on a valorous hunt for the truth and justness of the slayer of Laius. yet refuses to hear the truth when it is spoken to him. In order to hear the truth Oedipus needed to be able to hear and construe it. yet he merely heard what he wanted to hear. Therefore rendering him unable to understand the enigma of who he genuinely was.

In this drama at that place seems to be a changeless twine of sarcasms throughout. Oedipus is in denial of the truth. In his dramatic addresss he misconstrues the information that he has been given by Teiresias. every bit good as Creon and Iocaste. The dismaying realisation that the prognostication of the Sphinx is in fact the truth. causes Oedipus to blind himself. The audience therefore pities him. which is a consequence of the usage of dramatic sarcasm. The usage of sarcasm in a drama allows the author to do their audience want to see how the events which are happening. mentally affect the chief character. even if they already know how the narrative will stop. as in Oedipus the King.

Kennedy. X. J. . and Gioia Dana. “Oedipus the King” Literature: An Introduction to

Fiction. Poetry. and Drama. 2nd edition. New York: Addison Wesley Longman.