Dramatic Irony in the Odyssey

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Authors use many literary devices in order to heighten and enhance their works. Dramatic irony, expressions to complementary attitudes understood by the audience but not the characters, can make the emotions stronger in literature. Homer is one of many authors who used this technique well. In The Odyssey, Homer uses dramatic irony in order to enhance the emotional effect of crucial moments in the storyline, especially during the journey of Telemachus, the initial return of Odysseus, and the restoration of Odysseus to his rightful place in the kingdom.

During Telemachus’ journey to find his father, Homer includes dramatic irony through Athena’s relationship to the situation which creates a confused mood. After being prompted by Athena, who knew that Odysseus was trapped on Calypso’s island, Telemachus says, “For I am off to Sparta to see if I can find news of my father” (30). Shortly after Athena sends Telemachus on a journey, she gains permission to get Odysseus freed from captation on the island. The confusing mood is created through the dramatic irony of both father and son leaving to go towards each other when neither of them knows the other has left to find the other. The reader questions why Athena, whom Homer is using in this scene to create dramatic irony, would not tell Telemachus that his father is getting freed or even that he is on Calypso’s island. Instead, she sends him to Sparta to find out information about his father from Menelaus. Dramatic irony arises when Telemachus believes that his father may no longer be alive but wants to find out more. It is never even hinted at, to Telemachus, by Athena that he is alive and that he will soon return soon. Telemachus does not realize the irony that to the readers is easily visible. The reader knows of Odysseus’ existence on Calypso’s island and soon finds out that he will begin his journey back home. The confused mood creates a conflict for the character to solve by having the reader wonder why Athena...
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