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Dramatic Irony is one of the major themes in the tragedy "Oedipus". Thomas Sanders claims that "Dramatic irony occurs when a situation is just the opposite of what the character perceives"(33). In "Oedipus" the dramatic irony is based on a destiny presented by the Gods in which he cannot escape. Oedipus, a well respected person soon becomes a man guilty of murder and incest. His intentions were good, however the results were tragic.
Dramatic Irony has many purposes in a play, in many cases it serves as just a literary term but it helps keep the readers interested as well. Sanders states that, "Irony is meaningful only when the viewer (or reader) recognizes it and knows the significance of when if it employed is the play "(97). In other words if Dramatic irony were to be well used in a story the readers would be more interested in that story because it will have an exciting and unexpected outcome. For example in "Oedipus" we already know Oedipus has killed his father and married his mother but we anxiously await the tragic ending, this is one example of how dramatic irony has made the play more interesting for it's readers.
In "Oedipus" the dramatic irony was that Oedipus tried to escape the oracle presented to him by the Gods and as a result ran straight into it. This is another interesting part in the play because it shows that Oedipus pride would be the downfall of him. As the story begins in Medias Res ("in the middle of things") it is already known that Oedipus has killed his father and married his mother. "Oedipus is a man ruined by forces he can not be expected to have understood " (Bloom 36). However his pride as the king of Thebes leads him try and find the killer of the former king. He tells the people of Thebes that he will do everything in his power to find the killer, he says, " I'll start again, I'll bring it all to life myself! Apollo is right, and so are you Creon to turn our attention back to the murdered man. Now you have me to fight for you, you'll see... " (547). The Dramatic irony here is that without even knowing it Oedipus was convicting himself.
The dramatic irony in Oedipus not only effected Oedipus but it affected the people around him. People such as his wife and mother Jocasta, his children, and Creon his uncle and brother-in-law. Each time information about his past was revealed, it made matters even worst. " Jocasta in proving how false oracles can be, suggests to Oedipus unknowingly that he did kill Laius, Thus corrohorating the oracles" claims W. Briggs (1601). Without even knowing it Jocasta has unraveled a world of misery. She would have not known then that she would end up killing herself because she had married her son. That Creon would also be affected because Oedipus had to leave him control of Thebes and the people would have to succumb to a new ruler. There children would have to grow up without their father and mother, as well as the shame of being an inbred family. Thus it has been proven that dramatic irony can be tragic for the protagonist as well as the other characters.
The final point of dramatic irony in the play is when Oedipus realizes that he was the murderer and Laius was his father, but beyond all that he was the lover and husband of his own mother. When Jocasta heard the news she became so engulfed in misery and pain that she hangs herself. This a very important part of the play. Here the Dramatic irony is beginning to unfold and the long awaited outcome has come. Jocasta has killed herself and Oedipus has blinded himself from the eyes of the world by poking his eyes with the broach of Jocasta. According to Thomas Gould, " Oedipus mutilates himself because he can not face the living nor the dead "(42). This is the final point of the play that is very interesting because it is the end.
I think that Oedipus had no control over the events that occurred. According to Bloom, "Oedipus is a tragedy of destiny, man has
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Oedipus, Mythological kings, Creon, Jocasta, Irony, Oedipus the King, Laius, The Infernal Machine
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