Theme Of Dramatic Irony In Oedipus The King

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M.H Abrams defined dramatic irony as a situation wherein: “the audience or reader shares with the author knowledge of present or future circumstances of which a character is ignorant; in that situation, the character unknowingly acts in a way we recognize to be grossly inappropriate to the actual circumstances, or expects the opposite of what we know that fate holds in store, or says something that anticipates the actual outcome, but not at all in the way the character intends.”(137) The tragedy, “Oedipus the King” pulsates with dramatic suspense and this is largely due to Sophocles’ effective use of dramatic irony. Dramatic Irony underlines how partial human perception can be even when it is most reasonable and how agonizing it can be to be …show more content…
The plot is the most important component of Oedipus the King, as it is of every Greek Tragedy. This makes it the most important example of dramatic irony in the play. The main point of the plot is that Oedipus the King is trying to steer away from a curse that he was born with and with trying to stay away from his inevitable fate ends up fulfilling it. The audience is the knowing component throughout the play and can see the inevitable fate that Oedipus keeps getting closer to finding out in the play. Although slightly appalled by the fulfillment of the curse the audience is still somewhat hopeful that Oedipus will stay in an ignorant bliss as he presses on for the truth. However, the audience can see that this is not possible as he persistently keeps trying to find out the truth even when his wife/mother realizes it. It is also ironic that Jocasta abandons her son only to find out she is married to him and that Oedipus leaves Corinth only to uncover the identity of his true parents and finds out that he is responsible for his father’s death and that he had married his mother. The plot that the audience is already aware of keeps their attention because they want to see the unfolding of what happens when the character finds out …show more content…
“The play represents the fall of Oedipus who starts as a supremely confident, masterful king, a beloved, caring savior-figure, a man of energy and proven intelligence, and ends as a shunned, polluted, self-blinded outcast, deprived of the most basic freedoms” (Gilett p.273) As the play opens, Oedipus displays the qualities of a good ruler. He is intelligent and noteworthy for his compassion and his sense of justice. He is above average because of his social standing and because he was the only person who was able to unravel the mystery and solve the Sphinx’s riddle. He appears confident in his ability to rule because he was able to save Thebes by getting rid of the Sphinx. This is best seen when Oedipus says “I have come myself to hear you – I, Oedipus who bear the famous name.” He demonstrates compassion by telling the plague-stricken citizens that he is concerned for their health and the well being of the city. However, later in the play we see that he actually behave in a rather rash, angry manner, is unable to control his temper and is more concerned with his own well being rather than his city’s. Everything that Oedipus is presented as in the beginning of the play ends up being contradictory to his portrayal at the end of the play in a giant turn of dramatic irony. In the beginning he is loved by his people, at the end he is shunned. In the beginning he is confident, in the end he is filled with

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