Dramatic Devices In Oedipus The King

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The Greek myth about a king who accidentally killed his father and married his mother is a well-known tale today, as was it in 400 BCE. The play, Oedipus the King by Sophocles, dramatically depicts how this tragedy came to be. The significant influence of religion at the time forces the hand of many characters through their fear of prophetic oracles from Apollo. When Oedipus pursues his quest for the truth in response to an oracle, he is lead to his downfall, forging him into the archetypal tragic hero. Thus, dramatic irony, the situation in which the audience knows crucial information that the characters do not, is created. The audience is already aware of the play’s events, so there is an element of irony added into every aspect of the plot.…show more content…
Firstly, it is ironic how, in trying to escape his fate, Oedipus leaves Corinth to abandon his adoptive parents, only to encounter his real parents and fulfill his destiny. In his speech to the chorus regarding Laius’ killer, he declares, “Whose very scepter I hold in my hands as King; His marriage bed my bed of seed, our children even shared with the share of her [...] Such ties swear me to his side as if he were my father.” (Sophocles 15). The word “scepter” connotes the fact that Oedipus has taken the title of King from Laius. Oedipus thinks this has happened because he solved the riddle of the Sphinx, but he is unaware of the fact that he killed the former king. He goes on to describe how he and Laius have “such ties” of “marriage bed”, “bed of seed” and even “children” shared between them. He has no idea just how much he has shared with Laius but the diction he uses directly foreshadows the revelation later in the play that he is married to his mother. He even goes as far as to say “as if he were my father”, which the viewers know is indeed the truth. Another example of irony through diction is the play’s motif of sight vs. blindness. Tiresias, the blind prophet, sees more than Oedipus, whose sense of sight is perfect physically, yet is blind to the truth. Ironically, it is only after his eyes are gone that he truly sees. In trying to insult…show more content…
The role of religion presents a responsive and understanding attitude towards the ridiculous moments. Religion answers questions such as, why did Laius and Jocasta leave Oedipus at the crossroads, or, why did Oedipus leave Corinth. The use of diction is almost comical in its presentation of dramatic irony. The climactic moment when Oedipus takes his own vision is just as tragic as it is necessary, as every tragic hero must fall. Moreover, he vows to bring Laius’ killer to justice, and that is exactly what he does. Pursuing punishment despite the fact that it is self-inflicted displays a tremendous amount of nobility. Through these situations, Oedipus is more than a king with an unfortunate fate, but he represents mankind itself. And so the strength that allowed him to be king in the first place, but also acted as his flaw, comes full circle to redemption. These ironic effects are attained through the quintessential elements of religion, the tragic hero archetype, and diction. Without them, there would be no prophecy nor play to dramatically depict
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