Theme Of Irony In Oedipus The King

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The Emphasis of Irony Through Tragedy in Oedipus the King

Irony plays a significant role in the tragedy Oedipus the King by Sophocles and its dispersion throughout the story allows for the reader to fully understand the elements of tragedy (such as conflict, suffering, reversal, and recognition) that are incorporated within the plot. More specifically, Oedipus’ revelation about his own fate is the most ironic example of all. Sophocles’ liberal use of irony portrays Oedipus as a pawn to the gods because Oedipus does not experience recognition until the tragic conclusion of the story. The audience knows more than the characters involved, so this lends itself to many examples of irony within the story. Initially, Oedipus’ ironic oblivity
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Once the blind prophet Tiresias arrives in Thebes to tell the anxious Oedipus his prophecy, he is later disrespected by Oedipus for what comprises the prophecy--the fact that Oedipus is the murderer of Laius and that he has an inappropriate relationship with someone close to him. Oedipus is too irrational to listen to what Tiresias foretells, so he instead doubts Tiresias’ competence as an oracle, asserting that Tiresias has “no power or truth” (Sophocles 25). Oedipus blames Tiresias for failing in his duties as an oracle, because he does not know that he himself is actually the murderer of Laius and the husband of his mother; this is the epitome of dramatic irony. Furthermore, Oedipus’s accusations of others do not stop there. When Creon returns to Thebes, he is angered to learn that Oedipus accuses he and Tiresias of conspiring to manufacture a false prophecy and usurp Oedipus for his power as king. Because Oedipus does not have the knowledge that he is actually the source of the plague, he confronts Creon about this his involvement, stating: “I had not come to an agreement with you, Tiresias would never called the murder of Laius my work” (Sophocles 38). Oedipus is less knowledgeable than the audience, causing him to believe that others are trying to take his power rather than tell him …show more content…
The reader is told of Oedipus’ prophecy before the story begins, allowing for the emphasis of irony throughout many different examples in the story. Sophocles’ liberal use of irony portrays Oedipus as a pawn to the gods because Oedipus does not experience recognition until the tragic conclusion of the story. Oedipus’ ignorance of his true prophecy causes him to blame others for its telling when ironically, he is the actual person who should be incriminated. Also, Oedipus’ measures to prevent the occurrence of his prophecy end up causing its fulfillment. Furthermore, Oedipus’ understanding of his fate and his actions afterward further show his impotence versus the powers of divinity and the will of the gods. In this story, Oedipus is a pawn in the hands of the gods, making his tragic end both ironic and

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