Dramatic Irony in Two Faces of Oedipus

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Aristotle, the ancient Greek philosopher claims that a good tragic play must arouse pity from the audience, suggests that the best way to accomplish satisfying a crowd is through the use of dramatic irony. In the plays Oedipus Tyrannous by the Greek playwright Sophocles and Seneca’s Oedipus, we are able to indicate the presence of dramatic irony as it helps develop meaning in the text. Dramatic irony is revealed in a way that allows the reader to be more exposed to the play. Within this setting, we notice the aftermath of the story is conveyed to the reader, whereas the hero is blindly stumbling deeper towards his future of agony. In Sophocles’ Oedipus Tyrannus and Seneca’s Oedipus, dramatic irony is used to demonstrate and emphasize a character's disloyalty, ignorance, and blindness. Oedipus starts out as a prosperous king at the beginning of the play but ends up torturing himself at the end of both plays. Except for the almighty Teiresias, all the characters in the plays such as Oedipus, Jocasta, Creon, the Messenger, and the Chorus know nothing about what is to come therefore their speeches contain a lot of dramatic irony. However, the most dramatic irony is brought to light within the speeches of Oedipus. Oedipus specifically states, “no special favors and no personal ties will tear the guilty party from my grasp,” (Seneca 210). In both plays, dramatic irony is found in Oedipus’ proclamation for finding out who the killer of Laius is. This is shown when Creon brings the news from Delphi that the city's plague is due to the murder of the last king Laius. The pitiful condition is fixable but requires the banishment of the killer or even execution. Oedipus at once takes the steps to find out who the killer is and announces that if the killer makes a confession he will receive only banishment instead of capital punishment. The dramatic irony lies in the fact that

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