Type of paper: Essay

Topic: Family, Fate, Parents, Ethics, Truth, Irony, Women, Mother

Pages: 2

Words: 550

Published: 2020/09/13

Irony and Fate in Oedipus

Oedipus, the tragic Greek hero in Sophocles’ play is a character who cannot escape from his fate. Although Oedipus tries everything possible, including running away from his parents in Corinth and seeking the truth about the cause for the plague in Thebes he falls victim to fate and everything happens as it was predetermined. The play is also filled with Irony. The dramatic irony lies in the fact that Oedipus flees Corinth to escape the prophecy about killing his father and marrying his own mother. In running from Corinth, he unknowingly becomes instrumental in fulfilling the very prophecy that he is escaping from. He kills Laius, his father over a quarrel and as a result ends up with the murdered king’s kingdom as well as his wife Jocasta. Thus, without knowing that he is fulfilling the prophecy Oedipus kills his father and marries his mother. He also sires four children with his mother. The play is also filled with other Ironies. For instance when speaking of the murdered king Laius, Oedipus says, “I know of him by hearsay. I have not seen him (line 105)” when in reality he has not only seen his before but has also murdered him.
Oedipus’ truth seeking exercise is also ironical. He says, “For when I drive pollution from the land I will not serve a distant friend’s advantage, but act in my own interest (137-139).” The pollution he is referring to here is the murderer of the king who had brought upon doom to the land. His intention is noble as he wants good to come out of it, but sadly he does not realize that he himself is the pollution he is trying to get rid of. And although he tries to act for his own interest he ends up acting outside of his interest. He also curses the murderer and wishes doom upon him. “Upon the murderer I invoke this curse- whether he is one man and all unknown, or one of many- may he wear out his life in misery to miserable doom! (246-249)”. Here again Oedipus unaware that he was the one who had killed Laius and brought upon this situation curses himself. The punishment he decrees upon the murdered is ironical as he is the judge and the criminal in this situation. “I count myself the son of Chance, the great goddess, giver of all good things—I'll never see myself disgraced (1188-1190)”. Over the course of the play Oedipus realizes that the people who he thought were his parents were people who just brought him up. He believes that since he does not know his parents, fortune must be his mother as he has been favored in his life for so long. In Greek mythology Fortune is depicted as the goddess of fate, unbiased in doling out good or bad luck to people. But in Oedipus’ case, in spite of him claiming to be the son of Chance or Fortune, he is dealt with bad luck and contrary to his claim he is disgraced by the truth about his birth and his subsequent actions.
Oedipus suffers from a cruel fate and he is lead to his fate partly due to his own pride. Oedipus thinks of himself as a good man as well as a great man. He is the solver of riddles and a seeker of truth (characteristics that make him quite proud) and it is these characteristics about him that brings him to his fate. He is sure about himself as he believes that he has escaped fate by running away from Corinth, little realizing that he has only acted as the catalyst in making the prophecy come true. His fate is sealed and the audience knows this from the very beginning. The irony is that Oedipus is the last person to know the truth about his parentage although he is the one who sets about this truth seeking mission in motion. Sophocles employs Irony to a large degree to entertain the audience as well as bring out the themes of fate and pride in his play.

Sophocles. Oedipus the King. Trans. David Grene. kafkas.edu.tr. n.d. Web. 7 Jan. 2015.
Green, John. "Fate, Family, and Oedipus Rex: Crash Course Literature 202." YouTube. YouTube, 6 Mar. 2014. Web. 04 Jan. 2015.

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WePapers. (2020, September, 13) Works Cites Essay Example. Retrieved May 29, 2023, from https://www.wepapers.com/samples/works-cites-essay-example/
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"Works Cites Essay Example." WePapers, Sep 13, 2020. Accessed May 29, 2023. https://www.wepapers.com/samples/works-cites-essay-example/
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"Works Cites Essay Example," Free Essay Examples - WePapers.com, 13-Sep-2020. [Online]. Available: https://www.wepapers.com/samples/works-cites-essay-example/. [Accessed: 29-May-2023].
Works Cites Essay Example. Free Essay Examples - WePapers.com. https://www.wepapers.com/samples/works-cites-essay-example/. Published Sep 13, 2020. Accessed May 29, 2023.

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