Oedipus the King Irony

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Oedipus the King
Irony is when an outcome of events differs to what was expected. A famous Greek playwright by the name of Sophocles is very well known for his usage of irony in his play, Oedipus the King. Sophocles creates many plot twists in his play by using the idea of how one cannot escape their fate. He is able to use irony as an effective tool in both hindering and progressing Oedipus’ quest in finding the truth.

Oedipus the King, by Sophocles, is a Greek tragedy about a king’s terrible fate. The story revolves around a prophecy that was given to Laius, Oedipus’ father, which said that his son will murder him and sleep with his wife. Trying to escape fate, Laius hands off his child to a shepherd in hope that his son will die in the wilderness. However, Oedipus does not die and grows up to hear the same prophecy, leading him to leave his adopted parents and venturing off to Thebes. Before arriving in Thebes, Oedipus is confronted by Laius and out of self-defense Oedipus kills Laius and his men.

In the opening of Oedipus the King, Oedipus is given the role of seeking out the murderer of Laius by a priest in order to lift Thebes of a plague, “Therefore, O mighty King, we turn to you: find us our safety, find us a remedy,” (Sophocles, 43) Ironically, Oedipus himself was the murderer. Not knowing that he was the murderer, Oedipus is led on a wild goose chase to hunt for clues. Clueless of whom Laius’ murderer was. Oedipus then seeks help from a blind prophet, Tiresias. After being told that Oedipus himself was the murderer, he furiously accused Creon and Tiresias of scheming to overthrow him because Oedipus would not accept the fact that he is the cause of the plague. This leads Oedipus to trail off from his main focus of finding out the truth to focusing on keeping his position as king.

Another example of where Sophocles uses the prophecy as an irony was when the messenger from Corinth came to inform Oedipus about the death of his father, Polybus, “I...
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