Irony in Oedipus the King

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Irony in Oedipus the King

By | July 2007
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THE TRAGEDY OF OEDIPUS
Tragedy, in English, is a word used to indicate other words such as misfortune, calamity, disaster and many more such words. However, this word has another dramatic meaning, not far from its original meaning in English. In Western theatre it is a genre that presents a heroic or moral struggle of an individual that leads to his or her ultimate defeat or misfortune. When the audience and reader share the playwright's particular social perception and social values they easily empathize and relate with the fall of the protagonist (main character) from a prominent and high position into a state of misery or total destruction. On the other hand, Aristotle defined the term ‘tragedy' as "a man not preeminently virtuous and just, whose misfortune, however, is brought upon… by some error in judgment… the change in the hero's fortune must not be from misery to happiness, but on the contrary, from happiness to misery." Sophocles' Oedipus the King is a good example of a tragedy. In this story, Oedipus moves, to put it this way, from "hero – to – zero." In his superior position Oedipus resolves to find the answers to the suffering in the land and unfortunately, his efforts lead to his downfall because of his mistake in judgment. Oedipus, who is also the protagonist, helps bring to occurrence his own destruction without any will in his fate. Oedipus is not only destined to perform such abominable acts but his very behavior and personality (which leads him to doing these) determines his fate. He ignores the very signs, which could have avoided the tragedy. By not paying heed to the oracle or following up on the rumors about his heritage, Oedipus sets into motion the fate that was designed for him. His belief and arrogance about who he is lead to his fall. A major aspect that is dominant in this play from the very beginning is Sophocles's use of irony. Irony is a figure of speech that is used to convey meaning that is contrary to its literal sense or...
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