• Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

Dramatic irony in Oedipus Rex.

Extracts from this document...


DRAMATIC IRONY IN OEDIPUS REX Oedipus Rex is a Greek tragedy written by Sophocles in the early days of antiquity and is based upon an even more ancient story in Greek mythology. Sophocles, knowing that his audience is aware of the outcome of the play, utilizes that knowledge to create various situations in which dramatic irony play key roles. To begin with, dramatic irony is when the audience knows the tragic truth before the characters do. Through Sophocles's use of irony he manages to avoid retelling an old tale, even though the audience is aware of the story's ending, they are intrigued by the irony present in the story. From the beginning of the play, Oedipus is ignorant of the dreadful acts he has committed: the murder of his father and marrying his mother. But the audience, watching the play, is already well aware of these facts. ...read more.


*The way in which Oedipus and Jocasta express their disbelief in oracles is ironic. Jocasta, in an attempt to comfort Oedipus, tells him that oracles are powerless. However, in the beginning of the next scene, the audience can see her praying to the same gods whose powers she had mocked previously. Oedipus rejoices over Polybus' death as a sign that oracles are weak and infallible, yet he refuses to return to Corinth for fear that the oracle's statements concerning Merope could still come true. Despite of what they say, both Jocasta and Oedipus continue to suspect that the oracles might be right and that the gods can predict and affect the future. Another dramatic irony is the frequent use of references to eyes, sight, light, and perception throughout the whole play. When Oedipus refuses to believe Tiresias when he reveals the truth, the king accuses Tiresias of being blind. ...read more.


The play achieves that catharsis of which Aristotle speaks of a tragic hero by showing the audience a nobleman who is great, but not perfect, who is a good father, husband, and son that in the end unwillingly destroys his parents, wife, and children. There are two ways to read the story of Oedipus. One is to say that he cannot change his fate where he is incapable of doing anything to change the destiny that fate has stored for him. Another is to say that the events of the play occurred because of his fault, that he possesses the flaw that sets these events to action. The use of irony in a play allows playwrights to make audiences want to see how the events occurring mentally affect the main character, even if they already are aware of the story. The case of dramatic irony enables the audience of the play to sympathize with the ignorant and ill-fated protagonist. The effect of the tragedy is therefore more profound, long lasting, and much more alluring. ...read more.

The above preview is unformatted text

This student written piece of work is one of many that can be found in our AS and A Level Classics section.

Found what you're looking for?

  • Start learning 29% faster today
  • 150,000+ documents available
  • Just £6.99 a month

Not the one? Search for your essay title...
  • Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

See related essaysSee related essays

Related AS and A Level Classics essays

  1. Fate and Ignorance in Oedipus Rex.

    (Knox, 543). Martin Nilsson says that, "The real point where belief and disbelief clashed was the opposition between the art of foretelling the future and the physical explanation of natural philosophy." (Knox, 193). It is Oedipus' stance on this issue that defines whether or not he is a humanist.

  2. The Many Functions of Tiresias in Sophocles' Oedipus Rex

    The absence of Tiresias would result in the reader not fully visualizing this key concept. Tiresias finally functions as the catalyst ultimately responsible for the second half of the play's progression by directly causing the surge of anger in Oedipus first by refusing to talk and then, when he finally

  1. How far was Plato's perception of rhetoric a consistent one?

    The base metal, or appetite, could be influenced to 'feed' itself to too great an extent, and so cause the state to cease to flourish. Just as in the context of the human body, appetite must be encouraged to sustain balance and life, but if it is over-excited it causes greed and disharmony.

  2. Cinderella - play script

    I've always been told I've got to big a heart. Stepsisters: You've got to big a heart mother Stepmother: (suddenly cheerful) We'll take our tea upstairs. Come girls, we've got to get out beauty rest. We want to be our best for the ball tomorrow night.

  1. Dramatic irony in Oedipus.

    To thee, bright shining Apollo, who art nearest to my doors, is my first prayer, save us from the curse from this uncleanness, save!" - pg. 50 - Emphasizes to the audience that one second, Jocasta denies the Gods, the other second, she is praising and asking for their assistance.

  2. An examination of why lines 370- 447 form a key passage in Sophocles' Oedipus ...

    The arrogant implication of his words to Teiresias 'That you seem old, I'd teach you...' (402) suggest an insolent opinion about the elderly, as well. It's ironic, however, as it goes against the conventional notion that older people are more intelligent due to experience.

  1. How far do you agree that Sophocles "Oedipus the King" is nothing more than ...

    Oedipus did try to run away from the worry of what could happen, he did not want to commit what the prophecy was saying. There is irony as to who is responsible for Oedipus' agony at the end of the play showing that the play is similar to a detective

  2. Commentary on a Speech by Oedipus from Oedipus Rex.

    Consequently, he struck his eyes out so to alleviate the pain. More importantly, Oedipus chooses self-blinding over death because he sees it as a "just" punishment more painful than death, fulfilling his declaration to severely punish the murderer of La´┐Żos in Scene I, and subsequently sustaining his moral clarity (2).

  • Over 160,000 pieces
    of student written work
  • Annotated by
    experienced teachers
  • Ideas and feedback to
    improve your own work