Wednesday, July 20, 2011


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“It’s like rain on your wedding day. It’s the free ride and you’ve already paid. It’s the good advice that you just didn’t take. Isn’t it ironic? Don’t you think?” These are lyrics from a popular song titled Ironic. Have you ever stopped to think how ironic life is? Maybe you don’t even know what irony is. Irony is defined in Webster’s as “incongruity between the actual result of a sequence of events and the normal or expected result.” Oedipus’ life, in Oedipus Rex by Sophocles, is the epitome of irony. Even though the song Ironic was written just a few years ago, I think that the song could have been Oedipus’ theme song. I am going to take you on a journey through Oedipus’ life and demonstrate how different events in his life correspond symbolically to each scenario of this song. Oedipus ironic marriage is “like rain on your wedding day.” His “free ride” was to be a ruler, but he “already paid” by taking another throne. In addition we see many characters throughout the play giving him advice “that [he] just didn’t take.” However, the most ironic component of the play is how Oedipus, with good eyesight, is blind to the truth and the blind man can “see” everything.

A bride’s nightmare is rain on her wedding day. A wedding is suppose to be bright and beautiful not damp and dreary. The same thing is true for a marriage. For Oedipus and Iocaste their marriage started off bright and beautiful but abruptly turned damp and dreary. Oedipus runs away from home because of an oracle that says he would marry his mother. He thinks that staying away from his mother will prevent the oracle from coming true. After solving a riddle and delivering the people of Thebes, Oedipus gets a beautiful bride, Iocaste, as his gift. Life is good for Oedipus and there is no “rain on his wedding day.” However when he begins to realize that Iocaste could be his mother and the story unfolds, he is faced with having committed one of the worst sins, marrying his mother. Suddenly there is “rain on his wedding day.” It is ironic that the very thing that he left home for was the reason for his demise and the marriage that he cherished so much was considered so indecent. “Isn’t it ironic? Don’t you think?”

If Oedipus would have stayed in Corinth, he would have been king. It was a “free ride.” Polybos, King of Corinth, loved Oedipus so much that Oedipus believed that he truly was his son. If Oedipus would have stayed, he would have been there when Polybos got sick and passed away and then Oedipus would have inherited the throne. However, because of the oracle, Oedipus fled Corinth. Oedipus “paid” much to become a king, which he could have been if he would have stayed. This payment included killing the king of Thebes, ironically his father. Oedipus’ royalty could have been a “free ride,” but he decided to “pay” for it. “Isn’t it ironic? Don’t you think?”

Don’t you hate it when someone gave you good advice that you just didn’t take? Oedipus suffered immensely for not listening to other’s advice. For example, Teiresias tries to convince Oedipus to let him go home because it doesn’t want to tell Oedipus what he knows. Teiresias tell Oedipus, “No, I will never tell you what I know. Now it is my misery; then, it would be yours.” (Scene 1 line 11-11). Teiresias advises Oedipus not to force him to tell what he knows, but that was good advice that Oedipus just doesn’t take. Later Iocaste tries to stop Oedipus from digging so deep into the murder of Creon. She says “listen to me, I beg you do not do this thing!”(Scene line 145) Again it was “good advice that he just didn’t take.” “Isn’t it ironic? Don’t you think?”

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Perhaps the most ironic part of the play is the underlying symbolism of being able to see physically, but blind to the truth verses being blind physically, but able to see everything. This antagonism is seen between Oedipus and Teiresias. Oedipus is blind to the fact that the person he is so passionately looking for is himself. His blindness to the truth causes him to create an unimaginable sentence for the murderer of Creon, which is none other than himself. However, Teiresias who is physically blind is the one person who knows the truth. Teiresias knows that Oedipus is the murderer that Oedipus is looking for. Ironically at the end of the play, when Oedipus realizes the truth, he pokes out his eyes, causing himself to be blind. “Isn’t it ironic? Don’t you think?”

Irony is something that is encountered everyday. Most of us don’t even realize that it is irony. Oedipus primary goal in this play was to save his people and in saving his people, he banished himself. His marriage ended up being rainy, his free ride ended up costing him the throne, and the good advice that he didn’t take led to his demise. “Isn’t it ironic? Don’t you think?”

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