Irony in Oedipus Rex

Topics: Oedipus, Irony, Oedipus the King Pages: 2 (486 words) Published: September 23, 2012
Jordan Lopez
AP English 12 – Rayl

Throughout “Oedipus Rex”, Sophacles constantly fills the play with irony of all kinds, whether it is dramatic, situational, or verbal. He almost seems to enjoy exploiting Oedipus’ ignorance of the murder he committed and the prophecy he fulfilled, especially in the beginning of the play before he begins to realize the truth in his actions. This play is a great example of the usage of irony to create an entertaining plot.

Dramatic irony is mostly seen at the beginning of the play as the plot is being introduced. In the beginning of the play, Oedipus is informed by Creon that the Gods demand justice be brought to the person responsible for King Laios’ death in order to bring peace to Thebes. Upon hearing this news, Oedipus replies, “I learned of him [Laios] from others; I never saw him” (Prologue Line 109), claiming that he never met King Laios face to face. However, the reader knows this statement to be dramatically ironic because Oedipus in fact turns out to be the killer. Later in the play, Oedipus tells the people of Thebes that he “had been a stranger to the crime” (Scene 1 Line 5), reinforcing the use of dramatic irony in a similar way. Another example of dramatic irony appears when Oedipus is addressing the Thebian people about the issue: “As for the criminal, I [Oedipus] pray to God-whether it be a lurking thief, or one of a number-I pray that that man’s life be consumed in evil and wretchedness” (Scene 1 Line 29). Not only is this usage of irony entertaining, but it also adds to the plot by establishing Oedipus’ ignorance of his actions.

Another form of irony Sophacles uses quite often is situational irony, utilizing this literary tool in order to create unexpected twists in the story. When the prophet Teiresias is called upon to aid in the investigation of Laios’ murder, he gives an interesting clue: “A blind man, who has his eyes now; a penniless man, who is rich now; and he will go tapping the...
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