Irony in Oedipus the King

4 April 2015
Examines how Sophocles wove irony into all elements of his tragic play “Oedipus the King”.

This essay addresses the numerous instances of irony in Sophocles’ renowned Greek tragedy Oedipus the King; in the plot, the themes, and the dialogues. The author discusses how the audience knows of Oedipus’ situation, long before he figures things out for himself, and examines one of the most ironic scenes between the king and the blind soothsayer, Teiresias.
“Oedipus the King is one of the best-known Greek tragedies in dramatic history. The central theme was instrumental to daily life of the early Greeks, because it demonstrates the powers of fate. The main plotline revolves around Oedipus and his quest to escape his own destiny, which turns his life to turmoil. The play is about murder, incest, and suicide. Knowing the play contains these exciting elements, one would think there would be no problem drawing an audience. When the play was produced, however, the Greek audience would have been familiar with the legend of Oedipus Rex. Sophocles faced a great challenge to develop a play that would generate interest in watching a play in which the patrons already knew the story. Sophocles captures and holds his audience’s attention by introducing profound irony in the dialogue, in the plot and in the setting of Oedipus the King. “

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