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An Ironic Tragedy

In: English and Literature

Submitted By franciscarlton
Words 421
Pages 2
Carlton Francis
Professor Powley
ENC1102
4 April 2012
Word Count: 362
An Ironic Tragedy
Oedipus Rex by Sophocles is a drama in which King Oedipus suffers a tragic fate. He leaves his country in order to avoid killing his father and sleeping with his mother (Sophocles 1327). In his attempt to prevent his foretold fate from coming to pass, he unknowingly brings it to fulfillment. After speaking to a shepherd, he realizes that the woman he is married to is his mother and that her former husband, whom he murdered, is his father. Sophocles uses several types of irony in the story of Oedipus’ fate.
For instance, verbal irony is used in this drama. Oedipus Rex pronounces a curse on the “criminal” who has murdered King Laius (Sophocles 1314). This is ironic because he “curses the murderer of Laius and it turns out that he has cursed himself” (Knox 1383). Verbal irony is seen also in Oedipus’ conversation with the prophet Teiresias. Oedipus calls Teiresias “sightless,” and Teiresias calls Oedipus “blind” (Sophocles 1317-1318). The irony of this conversation is that Oedipus becomes physically blind when he repeatedly strikes his eyes with golden brooches after seeing his dead wife (1340).
Also, the usage of irony of situation is present in Oedipus Rex. Jocasta, Oedipus’ wife and mother, believes that her son is dead (Sophocles 1325). The discrepancy lies in the fact that her son is alive and that her son is Oedipus. Irony of circumstance is seen again in Oedipus believing that the prophesies were a lie because Polybos died (1332). Oedipus’ joy over the news of Polybos’ death is turned into grief when it is confirmed by the shepherd that Polybos was not his father and that he is originally from the land of Thebes (1343).
Bernard Knox, quoting Aristotle, discusses the irony of Oedipus Rex by describing how Oedipus’ state is “reversed from first of men to most accursed...

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