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Dramatic Irony in Sophocle's Oedipus Rex - Essay Example

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The defeat of Oedipus, primarily, will encourage him to persistently determine the truth so as to unearth the very source of the problems of Thebes…
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Dramatic Irony in Sophocles Oedipus Rex
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"Dramatic Irony in Sophocle's Oedipus Rex"

Download file to see previous pages Sophocles’s dramatic irony is shown in Oedipus’s emotions, building up tension and prefiguring the play’s climax. This paper discusses the use of irony in this play and determines exactly what types of irony he employs and the purpose and effect of his usage. Sophocles’s Dramatic Irony The dramatic irony in Oedipus Rex usually exists in lengthy dialogues. Oedipus always witnesses and views occurrences wrongly, and usually refutes that he has, actually, murdered his own father so that he can be wedded to his mother. This issue is initially evident when he staged the murder of the person who took the life of Laios. He paradoxically labels that person a malevolent killer. According to Bloom (2007), as Oedipus became a Thebes’s citizen following the assassination, he thinks that even though he actually murdered someone, he is excluded as a possible accomplice to Laios’s murder. Thinking that his audience is knowledgeable of the play’s climax, Sophocles uses that forethought to build different scenarios where in dramatic, as well as verbal, irony serves major purposes. Nevertheless, mentioning each and every irony in the play would be quite tedious, yet exciting. However, due to the vast abundance of irony in the play this paper only discusses the most noticeable among these ironies. Sophocles, by means of irony, successfully evades the humdrum method of narration; hence, even though the spectators are aware of the outcome of the play they are still excited to know its ironies. When Oedipus, for instance, declares his fury over the killer of King Laius in the play’s preface (Hobson 1993, 725):So will I fight on the gods’ side, And on the side of the slain man! ...
But my curse be on the one who did this, whether he is alone Or conceals his share in it with others. Let him be free of no misery if he share my house Or sit at my hearth and I have knowledge of it. On myself may it fall, as I have called it down! When the king declares these angry words he has unknowingly proclaimed his own sins, and to the elation of the people presaged future occurrences. This declaration is a typical illustration of verbal irony. In the above passage, Oedipus is actually denouncing himself, not some murderer as the speech is obviously referring to. Another case in point is his address when he responds to the crowd: “… Because of all these things I will fight for him as I would my own murdered father (Bloom 2007, 23).” The irony rests in this simple declaration, for Oedipus’s father is the assassinated King Laius himself. Sophocles does not limit the type of irony to the verbal form; he broadens the type of irony in a dramatic form as well (Hobson 1993). As stated by Bentley (1970), the whole story may be assumed to be an illustration of this since Oedipus is oblivious of his destiny, although the spectators are highly cognizant that the King will eventually become a pauper. The King is actually aware of the predictions but he is not aware that these prophecies are already happening. As proclaimed by Oedipus, he has effectively showed that the predictions are incorrect, yet the spectators are aware that this is not true. The predictions have become a major element of Oedipus’s existence but he remains unaware of it. In his address to the Thebes’s public he avows that he will begin anew and will improve the standard of their living. ...Download file to see next pagesRead More
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