The Use of Dramatic Irony in Sophocle's Oedipus the King Essay

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The Use of Dramatic Irony in Sophocle's Oedipus the King

Tragedy as an element of the human experience has been the subject of many of the great works of literature written in the Western tradition. For some, tragedy embodies the highest form of humanity. It is through suffering that we are able to reveal ourselves most completely. Others see tragedy as an element of morality where we are to learn well the lessons of those who tempt the gods. The Ancient Greek philosopher, Aristotle, outlined a theory of tragedy as archetypal drama in his classic work, the Poetics. He uses the play by Sophocles, Oedipus the King (hereafter "Oedipus"), as the standard model by which all other tragedies are measured. In Aristotle's view, a perfect
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The character of Oedipus exemplifies these elements of strong personality embodied by tragic action. Lastly, Aristotle thinks that the fate of the tragic character must be reconciled with the audience. The suffering has some specific cause and purpose to reach a resolution, or in direct terms a "catharsis." Without this resolution, the suffering would be for nothing and the tragedy has less meaning.

Sophocles was born a hundred years before Aristotle and perhaps was not aware that he wrote a near-perfect representation of the tragic form. Almost certainly, however, he was conscious of the dramatic irony he carefully intertwined throughout the plot. Dramatic irony was a tool for Sophocles to advance the notion of the tragic one step beyond the simple fate of the main character. Dramatic irony is a literary technique allowing the audience to know of the character's fate well before such fate occurs. The difference between the audience's knowledge of the tragic circumstances and that of the ignorant characters heightens the depth of the tragedy. The more significant the ultimate sacrifice which the innocent hero makes, the more powerful the message sent to those in

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