Oedipus life is revealed during the hours on stage. It is difficult to think of another play in which unity of time as a formal property of the drama contributes more to meaning. Every step Oedipus takes to solve the old murder mystery, every new confrontation with those he summons to appear with pieces of the past, every one of their chance disclosures, brings him closer both to the solution he seeks and to the self discovery he does not foresee. When the last piece falls into place the detective becomes the criminal, his success his doom, his happy ignorance tragic knowledge, and the evil without the evil within. Such a summary description of the plot points to heavy ironic nature. Dramatic irony operates whenever the audience is aware of some circumstance in plot or character that gives meaning beyond or at odds with that which the speaker consciously intends, or changes a situation with the significance unsuspected by the character caught in it. The more hostile the covert significance is to the unwitting ironist and the farther he is from realizing it, the more poignant the irony.
Dramatic irony first begins with the appearance of Oedipus in his Kingly robes and with his first words, I myself come hither, Oedipus, famous among all men. The pitiful towns people have appealed for aid to the one who is in reality the cause of their woe. Teresias is the blind man who sees, Oedipus the seeing man who is blind. Oedipus welcomes the information Creon brought him from Delphi. His optimism, his zeal to carry out all the commands of Apollo and to punish the murderer of Laius is ironical. In Oedipus words to the citizen supplicant in scene 1 sick as you are, not one is as sick as I, we hear not just the Kings concern for his stricken people and his self-involvement in their fate, we also perceive the dreadful accuracy of himself.
Irony Oedipus the King Oedipus is self-confident, intelligent and strong willed. Ironically these are the very traits which bring about his demise. Sophocles makes liberal use of irony throughout "Oedipus the King." He creates various situations in which dramatic and verbal irony play key roles in the downfall of Oedipus. Dramatic irony depends on the audience's knowing something that the ...
Our perception depends on our knowledge of the outcome in the persistent pattern of ironies Oedipus cursing Laioss murderer, promising to avenge the dead king just as though I were his son, and berating Teirsias for his arrogance, mocking his blindness, and accusing him of complicity in the murder. Far from being inept, premature giveaway of the plot, Sophocles method engages our interest in the dramatic form as an image of the frailty of mans defenses, the folly of his feeling of security and power hubris is the Greek word and the strange inevitability of his fate. Our suspense concerning the manner in the ironies will complete themselves in the unraveling of the directed past is of a subtler kind than that produced by ignorance of outcome. If we miss the grim geometry in all this, the plot will seem only like a set of brutal facts manipulated for shock effect not so much an irrelevant as an inadequate response. Oedipus even goes further by exhorting them in the search for the murderer of Laios, he proclaims his curse on the murderer with dreadful irony, interdicts him from concourse with Thebans and emphasizes his own zeal in the cause. Irony is a rhetorical device for holding different or opposite truths in suspension, for focusing on the discrepancy between what seems to be and what is.
It is therefore properly the sustaining mode of a tragedy of self-ignorance. At the beginning of the play Oedipus has a clear and single purpose: to find Laios s murderer. When he later begins to pursue his own parentage the obvious irony is that wise and self assured man doesnt realize that his purpose has changed. The deeper irony is that it hasnt really changed, since the answer to the question of whose son he is also the answer to the question who killed Laios. Pride motivates both quests..