Situational Irony In Oedipus The King

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In the play, Oedipus the King, there are many different examples of situational, dramatic, and verbal irony. Irony is very prevalent during this play, mostly because of the backstory of Oedipus. Oedipus’s parents were presented with an oracle that stated their son, Oedipus, would eventually destroy the city of Thebes, kill his father, and lie with his own mother (Oedipus Rex 1205-1206). As the story goes on, Thebes is hit with a plague and the only way to get rid of it is to exile or kill the murderer of King Laius, the king of Thebes (99-108). Although Oedipus was determined to find the murderer of Laius, it ended up being himself (1118-1123). This is one example of irony used in Sophocles’s play. Sophocles uses these literary devices to create suspense, build tension, and sustain the…show more content…
One specific example of situational irony occurs when the town of Thebes is suffering through a terrible plague (25-34). Oedipus sends his wife’s brother, Kreon, to Delphi to ask Apollo how to end the plague (71-75). When he arrives, he announces that the murderer of Laius must be exiled or killed before the plague will go away (104-111). Oedipus is insistent on finding the killer and freeing Thebes from the plague. He states, “Then once more I must bring what is dark to light. It is most fitting that Apollo shows, As you do, this compunction for the dead. You shall see how I stand by you, as I should, Avenging this country and the god as well, and not as though it were for some distant friend, but for my own sake, to be rid of evil. Whoever killed King Laius might, who knows? Lay violent hands even on me and soon. I act for the murdered king in my own interest”(134-144). This statement from Oedipus is an example of situational irony because Oedipus does not know that he will end up being the murderer of King Laius. This impacts the story because the audience has no clue that the killer will wind up being Oedipus
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