Dramatic Irony in Oedipus Rex

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Sophocles often wrote about ancient myths that were common knowledge to the people who viewed his plays. “Oedipus The King” was written knowing that the audience is aware of the outcome of the play, and therefore utilizes that foreknowledge to create various situations in which irony plays a key role. More specifically, this dramatic irony is used to highlight the characters’ different flaws.

Even though Oedipus was not a bad person, his lack of humility blurs his ability to see the truth of the prophecy, and eventually leads to his demise. When the town people come to him, begging for help, he does not hesitate in trying to liberate them from this awful plague. Once it becomes known though that the disasters are being caused by the murder of the former king Laius, Oedipus makes it clear that had he been “present [at the murder] there would have been no mystery” (Sophocles 249) regarding the identity of the murderer. Ironically enough, he truly was present; he is no “stranger to this crime” (249). When he leaves Corinth, the town where he was raised by the king and queen, in an attempt of escaping the prophecy from the oracle of Dephi, he runs into an old man. There was a quarrel and for no solid reason he kills him and his escorts. Indeed, this man is in reality Oedipus’s father and without any personal intend or knowledge, he fulfills the first part of his destiny: killing his own father. His pride blinded his own self-awareness and eventually directed him towards his dreaded fall. If the definition of moderation is the attempt to not been given to extremes, then Oedipus is a prime example of the lack of this virtue. One can argue that when he is talking about the punishment for Laius’s killer, he lacks any empathy and proposes the most ultimate and harsh punishments. He was absolutely no moderation when finding a consequence to the man’s wrongdoings. The irony exists when these disastrous punishments are indeed applied to the murderer, which turns out to...
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