Oedipus Rex In the play Oedipus Rex, the author Sophocles, attempts to create feelings of sympathy towards the main character, Oedipus. This is achieved by using dramatic irony, the prophecy that guided Oedipus towards the truth regarding his childhood, and key scenes in the play, which help to build the audiences understanding and opinions concerning his situation. Through the prophecy alone, Oedipus was doomed even before his life had even begun. As an innocent child, his parents, King Laios and Queen Iokaste, had tried to rid themselves of the curse, which was cast upon them by Apollo, the god of the sun. For many years the King and Queen, lived normal lives thinking that they had overcome the powerful prophecy.
Many years later, Oedipus, after hearing the same prophecy, fled from the two people, which he believed to be his real parents. This was his attempt to try and save them from his own fate. While Oedipus was trying to escape, he discovered the truth about his identity, although his realization came too late. Oedipus would be forever shamed by the entire city and live a life of darkness and guilt. We feel pity throughout these events because these incidences were beyond his control. The gods had proven that they were superior and extremely powerful beings.
Many times throughout the play the audience was aware of certain situations that would arise before the actors themselves were aware. This used of dramatic irony created suspense and pity for Oedipus. One of the first examples of this is the proclamation that was made by Oedipus himself. The audience knows that he will somehow be involved in the discovery of the murdered when he says, “As for me, this curse applies no less” (Sc. 1, l. 32).
By doing this he will now suffer just as much as anyone else, even though he is of higher authority. Another example of dramatic irony occurs when Teiresias, the blind seer, makes his own prediction of what is to come of Oedipus “A blind man,/who has eyes now; a penniless man, who is/ rich now;” (Sc.1,l236-237). This prophecy is also fulfilled by the end of the play, causing more sympathy to be felt toward Oedipus. Another instance where there is dramatic irony is when Iokaste is explaining why she believes that not all prophecies are fulfilled. As she tells the story of the child left on the mountainside, a bad memory crosses Oedipus’s mind.
He now began to realize that there were some large similarities with the two stories told. These were the most prominent scenes where dramatic irony occurred and a great deal of pity was felt. In the play, there were also certain scenes that went deeper into Oedipus’s character. During these scenes feelings of sympathy and compassion arise. Towards the end of the play, Oedipus had an extremely different perspective concerning his situation.
At the beginning he was trying to cast the blame upon others, such as Kreon, but as the play progressed he discovered that there was no one else to blame, except himself. As a result of the guilt, he gauged out his own eyes so he would never again have to look and the misery and suffering he had caused. Also, as Oedipus bid farewell to his daughters, he explained to them that they would be shunned for the rest of their lives and they will never marry as a result of Oedipus’s prophecy. Not only had it ruined his life, but it had also ruined the life of his daughter and most surely affected his sons and the people of the city as well. The pity that is felt throughout the play, Oedipus Rex, is clearly a feeling of pain at undeserved misfortune.
This was built up throughout the play by the use of dramatic irony, the prophecy and power of the gods, as well as the way in which Oedipus could relate to the audience through a few particular scenes. English Essays.