Effective Dramatic Irony

Topics: Tragedy, Sophocles, Oedipus Pages: 3 (820 words) Published: April 10, 2002
Effective Dramatic Irony
In Oedipus The King, Sophocles creates rising action by asking dramatic questions throughout the play. These questions generate suspense in the audience when they become dramatic irony and amplify the climax. During the falling action, Oedipus is engulfed in misery when he experiences a reversal of fortune. Finally, Oedipus goes through a discovery process ending when he discovers his tragic resolution. According to Aristotle, a tragedy consist of a drama that contains incidents that arouse pity, and a tragic hero that ordinarily is a man of noble stature not because of his own virtue but rather his own intelligence and reasoning. Sophocles uses dramatic irony as an element of fiction in Oedipus The King that builds rising action, foreshadows, and shows a reversal of fortune. According to Literature, dramatic irony is a kind of suspenseful expectation, when the author and the audience understand the implications and meanings of situations on stage, and foreshadow the oncoming disaster, while the character does not.

Aristotle describes dramatic irony used in the plot of Oedipus The King as a "reversal". When the first messenger arrived with the news that contrary to the prophecy that Oedipus would kill his father and begat children with his mother, his father had died of old age. However, the audience is privileged with the knowledge of the dramatic irony soon to unwind. In the Exodos, a midst the falling action, the Queen commits suicide "by that bed where long ago the fatal son was conceived—" Oedipus "who should bring about his fathers death." (Exodos 20-22) The "reversal" as described by Aristotle, is revealed when the Queen's suicide was a result of the "double fruit of her marriage, a husband by her husband, children by her child." (Exodos 23-34) This example of dramatic irony is important to the rising action, while the Exodos is a precursor to the falling action and resolution.

In Oedipus The King, dramatic irony...

Cited: 1. Kennedy, X. J.. and Dana Gioia, eds. Literature: An Introduction to Fiction, Poetry,
and Drama. 8th ed. New York: Longman, 2002. 1383
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