Irony in Oedipus Rex

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Oedipus Rex- Dripping with Irony
Sophocles' masterpiece Oedipus has both fascinated and terrified audiences for centuries. The story offers unique insight into the complexities of human nature, of pain and suffering. King Oedipus is fortune's fool, and at the mercy of fate throughout the entire play. It is, however, his own decisions and actions which ultimately cause his demise. With creative use of irony, Sophocles makes apparent how tragic both fate and even free will can be.

The entire story of Oedipus is built around a central ironic theme. The king's world is one full of ironies, most of which are cruel. His life begins in exile, because his father fears a prophecy, one in which his son would kill him and marry his wife. It is this decision by the father, King Lauis, which allows for the events of the story to unfold, and the prophecy to be fulfilled. Ironically, if Lauis had kept the boy and raised him honestly, as his own, he never would have had anything to fear. Oedipus has no desire of fulfilling this prophecy, which the Oracle would later explain to him. The confusion and dishonesty surrounding his birth and childhood set up Oedipus and his parents like pawns, permitting fate to take over and do as it pleases. Irony is most frequently presented in the dialogues between Oedipus and various other characters. The first instance of this is when he orders the execution of the man who

murdered Laius. Oedipus hopes to divert the plague on Thebes by identifying the killer of Lauis, as the oracle instructed. He assumes that, although he has killed someone in the past, there is no way he could have been responsible, seeing as how he came to Thebes long after the king's death. Later on, Oedipus accuses Creon of plotting treason against him. In actuality, Creon has no desire to be king; he enjoys all the wealth and comfort without having to take on any of the responsibility. Oedipus, clouded with confusion and paranoia, starts to put the pieces together...
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