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Many sources tell us that Sophocles wrote more then onehundred plays but only seven of them have survived thecenturies in their entirety Certainly the best known of hissurviving plays is Oedipus Rex The plot of the playhinges on the element of irony Irony can be defined as acombination of circumstances or a result that is theopposite of what is or might be expected or consideredappropriate Guralnik Websters 1968 p 745 Irony isone of the prevailing and defining characteristics of theThe first event that sets the whole tragic tale inmotion is when Laius King of Thebes is told by a prophetthat any child that is born to him and his queen Jocastawill murder him Therefore when a child is born to him hepierces the babys ankles with a spike ties them togetherand has a servant leave the child on Mount Cithaeron to diefrom exposure This is ironic because if Laius had notattempted to murder his own child Oedipus would not havebeen found and raised by strangers He would have knownJocasta was his mother Ironicallyand disgustingly Oedipusmarries her and produces several children Also withouthis violent temper he would not have killed his father onthe road to the Oracle if had had been aware of hisAs a baby Oedipus is found by a shepherd and takenback to Corinth where he is raised as the son of KingPolybus and his queen Merope After he is grown Oedipusis told by a drunken man at a banquet that he really isntthe son of Polybus Confused Oedipus is determined to learnthe truth H visionary oracle The horrified woman sendshim away saying that he will murder his father and marry hismother The prophecy disturbs Oedipus so much that hedoesnt return in the hopes of preventing the prophecy fromcoming true But in so doing he defied the will of theThis is of course ironic because Oedipus is takingthe action of not returning to Corinth because he wrongfullyconsiders Polybus and Merope to be his
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