Oedipus Rex: Displaying Pride with+- Dramatic Irony
Dramatic irony is when the audience of a play knows something that the characters do not. In the play Oedipus Rex, the author Sophocles illustrates Oedipus becoming king of Thebes and then his ultimate downfall, destruction, and physical blindness. All of this resulted from Oedipus’ tragic flaw of pride. Sophocles shows Oedipus’ downfall by using dramatic irony. He accomplishes this to show Oedipus’ flaw by illustrating how mentally blind Oedipus truly is about the murderer of Thebes and of his fate.
At the beginning of Oedipus’ reign, dramatic irony is shown when he addresses Thebes, and the chorus about finding the murder of the former king Laios. Oedipus states “If any man knows by whose hand Laios, son of Labdakos, met his death, I direct that man to tell me everything”(Sophocles 13). Oedipus shows that he does not know who the actual murderer of Laios is, which in fact, is himself, while the audience knows all along that he is the killer. Earlier in scene one, The Chorus is praying to the gods for relief from the plague and Oedipus states “Is this your prayer? It may be answered. Come, listen to me, act as the crisis demands and you shall have relief from all these evils” (12). Oedipus acts as if he is a god, or can speak for the gods, which shows his pride even more.
In the middle of Oedipus’ reign, dramatic irony was shown when Oedipus requests help from Teiresias to solve the mystery of who killed Laios and how to save the city. Teiresias explains to Oedipus that he will not say anything; this angers Oedipus, resulting in a word-war between each other. Oedipus mocks Teiresias about his blindness, which causes the prophet to state, “You mock my blindness, do you? But I say that you, with both your eyes, are blind: You cannot see the wretchedness of your life…” (Sophocles 22). What Teiresias says is a perfect example of dramatic irony, in that the audience knows that Oedipus will end up blinding...
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