Examining Oedipus in Three Scenes
Length: 800-1000 words
Formatting/Documentation: MLA style
A.E. High argues that Oedipus is an ironic character because he is “blind” to his own fate or destiny. Oedipus does not realize that his own words and actions point to his tragic downfall. High refers to this as “unconscious irony” (see “The Irony of Sophocles” on pages 950-951 of your textbook).
Write an academic essay in which you closely examine Oedipus’ speech and actions in the three scenes listed below. Explain how Oedipus exhibits “unconscious irony” in each of these three scenes.
Your essay must either quote or paraphrase the three following sources of information, and you must cite all three sources in your Works Cited page as “works in an anthology”:
• A.E. Haigh, “The Irony of Sophocles” (pages 950-951)
• “Aristotle’s Concept of Tragedy: The Tragic Hero” (pages 905-906)
• “Recognition and Reversal” (906-907)
In the introductory paragraph, define “unconscious irony” by referring to High’s essay and declare your intention to explore this concept in Sophocles’ Oedipus the King. Be sure to name the author and title of the play somewhere in your introduction (i.e. Sophocles, Oedipus the King). Your thesis statement should say whether Oedipus does in fact exhibit unconscious irony in the play.
Paragraph 1. Oedipus’ opening speech (pages 914-916)
Identify and explain details in this speech that illustrate unconscious irony in the character of Oedipus. Refer to A.E. High and perhaps also Aristotle’s concept of the “tragic hero” as it relates to Oedipus.
Paragraph 2. Oedipus and Tiresias the Blind Prophet (916-921)
Examine Oedipus’ interaction with the blind prophet Tiresias. Does Tiresias offer clues that Oedipus is in fact the murderer of King Laius? Is Oedipus blind to these clues? Does this blindness illustrate unconscious irony? Perhaps refer to Aristotle’s concept of the tragic hero.
Paragraph 3. Oedipus and Creon (923-926)
Examine Oedipus’ interaction with his brother-in-law, Creon. Note that Oedipus accuses Creon of murdering King Laius without any proof.
Conclusion: (See below)
In the last paragraph, examine Oedipus’ final speeches (942-947). Does Oedipus finally accept responsibility for his actions? Identity evidence of this and explain. Refer to Aristotle’s concept of “recognition and reversal” in this paragraph.
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