In Oedipus the King, Sophocles demonstrates how Oedipus is one of the most tragic characters in all of literature while using countless examples of irony. Throughout the entirety of Sophocles” masterpiece, verbal, dramatic and situational irony occurs. Sophocles exquisitely entangles irony into many aspects of Oedipus” life. Sophocles portrays Oedipus as the ultimate tragic hero using a combination of powerful and enthralling scenes.
Sophocles is known by some to be the master of irony, and Oedipus the King allows readers to understand why. A fascinating example of irony is Oedipus” life in itself. Oedipus is led to believe that two individuals are his parents, when they are not. This irony leads to a succession of incidents including the fulfillment of Oedipus” prophecy of killing his father and marrying his mother. Oedipus threatens the killer of King Laius. “But my curse be on the one who did this, whether he is alone or conceals his share in it with others. Let him be free of no misery if he shares my house or sits at my hearth and I have knowledge of it. On myself may it fall, as I have called it down.” In this example of verbal irony Oedipus thinks he is intimidating some miscreant robber, when he is actually speaking of himself. Another interesting example of verbal irony occurs when Oedipus addresses the chorus regarding justice in the case of Laius” murder. “I will fight for him as I would my own murdered father.” This is ironic because the murdered King Laius is in fact the murdered father of Oedipus. Vision is also an ironic aspect introduced in the midst of the play. Oedipus says that he “is not blind [he] can see everything clearly.” This is ironic because at the conclusion of the play Oedipus blinds himself. Sophocles did a remarkable job of using numerous engaging examples of irony in Oedipus the King.
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Sophocles evolves one of the most tragic characters in all of mythological literature using a combination of intelligence and creativity.