Dramatic Irony In Oedipus The King

1021 Words5 Pages
The play, Oedipus the King by Sophocles, bases its plot around dramatic irony. Dramatic irony is a literary device in which the audience is aware of a series of events or characteristics that the characters themselves are not yet aware of. This device was used to shape the tone of the work and furthermore the reader’s reaction to it. In the play, dramatic irony is used to tell the story and affects the reader's perception of the protagonists. These characters especially include Oedipus and Queen Jocasta. The writer depends on dramatic irony to set up the tragedy. Sophocles’s reliance on dramatic irony is apparent throughout the entire story. From the start of the play—where Oedipus searches for the murderer of the fallen king—the audience is already aware of Oedipus’s story. Ironically, readers grasp that Oedipus was the murderer of Laius and therefore the cause of the plague. Oedipus himself, however, lacks any knowledge of his participation in the event and believes that he has managed to avoid the prophecy’s fruition. As such, Sophocles’s use of the device affects the way the plot progresses. Mainly, the author bases the conflict on Oedipus’s “blindness”. It draws out the story until it reaches its climax. Throughout the play, Oedipus is in denial of his involvement in the death of Laius despite being told several times of his guilt. One such time occurred when Teiresias, an old blind prophet, reluctantly told Oedipus of his actions. As to be expected, Oedipus reject his words with scorn, threatening the old man. “Do you imagine you can always talk like this, and live to laugh at it hereafter?” (lines 425-426) Oedipus further insults Teiresias physical blindness, not realizing his own metaphorical blindness. As per dramatic irony, however, readers know the one who is truly blind was Oedipus. Teiresias further makes this apparent. “You have your eyes but see not where you are in sin, nor where you live, nor whom you live with. Do you know who your parents are?” (lines 482-484) Events such as these seem to be a recurring theme in the play. Oedipus is made aware of the truth by another character, and then he fervently accuses them. Because of this, the audience becomes familiar with the pattern. The dramatic
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