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Use of Irony in Oedipus Rex Many sources tell us that Sophocles wrote more then one hundred plays but only seven of them have survived the centuries in their entirety Certainly the best known of his surviving plays is Oedipus Rex The plot of the play hinges on the element of irony Irony can be defined as a combination of circumstances or a result that is the opposite of what is or might be expected or considered appropriate Guralnik Websters 1968 p 745 Irony is one of the prevailing and defining characteristics of the play The first event that sets the whole tragic tale in motion is when Laius King of Thebes is told by a prophet that any child that is born to him and his queen Jocasta will murder him Therefore when a child is born to him he pierces the babys ankles with a spike ties them together and has a servant leave the child on Mount Cithaeron to die from exposure This is ironic because if Laius had not attempted to murder his own child Oedipus would not have been found and raised by strangers He would have known Jocasta was his mother Ironicallyand disgustingly Oedipus marries her and produces several children Also without his violent temper he would not have killed his father on the road to the Oracle if had had been aware of his identity As a baby Oedipus is found by a shepherd and taken back to Corinth where he is raised as the son of King Polybus and his queen Merope After he is grown Oedipus is told by a drunken man at a banquet that he really isnt the son of Polybus Confused Oedipus is determined to learn the truth H visionary oracle The horrified woman sends him away saying that he will murder his father and marry his mother The prophecy disturbs Oedipus so much that he doesnt return in
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