Fear And Tragedy In Sophocles Oedipus The King

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In Sophocles’ Oedipus the King, the Greek tragedy consumes its audiences with fear and pity to build a heightened sense of tension that ultimately climaxes with a grand catharsis. The use of dramatic irony, a literary technique in Greek tragedy by which the full significance of a character’s words or actions are clear to the audience but unknown to the character, creates a deep sense of fear and pity for the unconscionable acts of Oedipus and Jocasta. This fear and pity is alleviated through the catharsis of death and blindness, something that brings peace to each character yet for the viewer can be seen as tragic. Oedipus’ misery is to be sealed by three acts: his murder of his father, his marriage to and procreation with his mother, and finally …show more content…
As the audience advances through, they know that Oedipus will suffer a terrible fate and that his family will be torn apart. This knowledge makes the audience fear every moment of the play because they know that he is destined to tear apart his family but do not know exactly how or when. Early in the play when Oedipus learns that Laius’ murder is in Thebes he declares that he will “ forbid that man, whoever he be, my land, this land” (236-237). This statement by Oedipus, oblivious to the fact that he is actually Laius’ murder, demonstrates both irony and dramatic irony. The scene employs irony in the sense that Oedipus is outlining the harsh punishment for a culprit who is in fact himself, as well as dramatic irony because the audience is privy to this truth although Oedipus is ignorant to the fact. This creates uneasiness in the audience as to what Oedipus will do when he realizes that he is in fact the murderer. Oedipus’ relentless toiling over the punishment he will bring down on the culprit depicts a man who is obsessed and fixated on bringing someone to justice. This infatuation foreshadows let down that Oedipus will endure when he becomes privy to the fact that he never find satisfaction in his quest to bring someone to justice. Furthermore, this begs the question as to how Oedipus will react he discovers that he in fact is responsible for …show more content…
After she learns that she has married her son who also killed her former husband, Jocasta kills herself, “by her own hand” (1237). This act of suicide is the only way out of her cursed life, which was deemed irreversible. Death is a means by which Jocasta can escape life and relieve herself of the miserableness and tragedy of her life. By killing herself, Jocasta can enter a sort of serenity because she no longer has no worries and can peacefully rest for eternity untouched and untainted. This spontaneous act of death indicates the severity of the curse and how it can never be forgotten or undone. After Oedipus learns that Jocasta has just committed suicide, Oedipus, heavily distressed, blinds himself with the brooches of her dress, exclaiming, “You will never see the crime I have committed or had done upon me” (1271-1272)! Oedipus’ act of catharsis is less extreme than Jocasta’s because he knows that he will be killed for his sins and that he must say goodbye to his children first. Oedipus blinds himself to relieve his eyes from having to see what the curse has brought unto him and his family. Oedipus’ destroying of his eyes portrays that less knowledge is better than knowing all because it will cause less pain. Oedipus and Jocasta’s escapes from the real world through catharsis portray the pain within them and their

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