Oedipus Essay

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The Irony of Oedipus Rex • by ~SHad35, Feb 12, 2008, 10:43:43 PM • Literature / Prose / Non-Fiction / Academic Essays The Irony of Odeipus Rex Ancient Greek drama was a major form of entertainment for the Greek people. Every year a festival would be held in which citizens would gather at the amphitheatre to see plays. Playwrights spent all year preparing for this festival. One well-known playwright in Greek drama was Sophocles, who composed Oedipus Rex. In his play the main character, Oedipus, seeks to find the murderer of Thebes’ former king Laïos. However, his search only brings his own demise. Because of the plot of Oedipus Rex, Sophocles appropriately uses irony to tell his tale. Verbal irony is often used in Oedipus Rex. One instance is when Oedipus addressing his subjects, the people of Thebes. He tells them that the murder of Laïos must be found in order for the plague to be lifted. He says, “I pray [the murder’s life] is consumed by evil and wretchedness”(59). This is an example of sarcasm. In saying this, Oedipus is saying that he vows to find the murderer of Laïos, and hopes that their life is accursed. However, this is an example of irony because the audience knows that Oedipus is himself the murderer. This is also an ironic statement because Oedipus’ life is already wretched and will continue to get worse. This statement shows use of verbal irony in the play. Another example of verbal irony comes when Oedipus first begins his address to his people. He is telling them that he knows they are suffering and that he will help them. He says, “I know that you are deathly sick; and yet, sick as you are, not one is sick as I” (57). Oedipus thinks he is saying that he is distraught by his peoples’ predicament, and it greatly troubles him. The audience knows that Oedipus really is the “sickest”

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