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Uploaded by neilfin on Feb 25, 2004

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 King’s concern for his stricken people and his self-involvement in their fate, we also perceive the dreadful accuracy of himself. Our perception depends on our knowledge of the outcome in the persistent pattern of ironies – Oedipus cursing Laios’s 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 man’s...

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Uploaded by:   neilfin

Date:   02/25/2004

Category:   Literature

Length:   3 pages (640 words)

Views:   1599

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