December 2, 1997 Oedipus Essay Iron(y) Truths Built of the Strongest

In Sophocles's play, Oedipus the King, there are a multitude of ironies that riddle Jocasta's "proof." Jocasta mentions three events that show Oedipus that he could not have been the murderer of Laius. However, these items of evidence only strengthen that Oedipus committed the crime. These events include that, robbers killed Laius, Jocasta's child is dead, and that Polybus, Oedipus's supposed father, has died a natural death. The explanation that robbers had killed Laius seems to comfort Oedipus until Jocasta describes the place where the crime took place. This new evidence frightens Oedipus to point that he sends for the surviving witness. After threatening the old shepherd he finds out that he was the one that killed Laius. The one person that could have delivered salvation to Oedipus only serves to hasten him to the climax. Not only does the shepherd reveal that Oedipus killed Laius, he also reveals that he is also the son of Lauis and Jocasta. The shepherd was ordered to kill the infant Oedipus, but had pity on the baby and gave it to one of Polybus's servants which eventually gave it to Polybus and Merope to keep as their own. So Oedipus is not the son of Polybus and he finds out that he killed Laius. Jocasta mentions that she has found out that Polybus has died of natural causes and that Oedipus need not worry about killing him for the gods have taken him themselves. A messenger overhears the proclamation and mentions that Polybus is not really Oedipus's father. Jocasta distressed by this puts all the pieces together and finally figures the mystery out. She goes and hangs herself. All of the above are examples of the stronger ironies that occur in Oedipus the King. With these three events comes the eventual downfall of Oedipus and his posterity. The lessons learned from these events bring to light the role that fate plays in our daily lives.