I believe the main point Sophocles was trying to convey in the story “Oedipus Rex” was that you have to be accountable for your actions. He shows this by the use of dramatic, situational, and many more different kinds of irony. Sophocles also uses foreshadowing to show how Oedipus needs to be accountable for his actions. Sophocles is teaching his audience an important life lesson. Sophocles shows his audience that you have to be accountable for your own actions. He does this by showing the audience that no one could have stopped Oedipus from fulfilling his life’s prophecy.
In the play “Oedipus Rex” Sophocles tells the story of a man, who is now king of Thebes. He was born in a different land and was told a prophecy that he would kill his own father and wed his mother. When he heard this he fled from the land and came to Thebes where he claimed the throne and became their king. Oedipus is a head strong person. Who often doesn’t think before he speaks, such as when he says, “And for myself I pray that if he should, with my knowledge, become a resident of my house, I may suffer the same things which I have just called down on others. Oedipus says this not knowing that he himself is the murderer and that he will punish himself.
Oedipus also makes judgments and decisions before he knows all the facts. One example of this is when Creon says, “Kinswoman, Oedipus, your husband, wants to do one of two terrible things to me, either thrust me from the land of my fathers or to arrest and slay me. ” Oedipus is so angry with Creon that he does not think before accusing him even though Creon is trying to protect Oedipus. Since Oedipus’ character is flawed it helps support Sophocles’ point of saying that you are accountable for your own actions.
This is shown the best when Oedipus tells his wife, Jocasta, that while he was traveling to Thebes he ran into a man on the road who tried to push Oedipus from the path. Oedipus, having a short temper, struck out and slayed all the men in and leading the carriage. This was not a good thing to do in the first place, but what Oedipus did not realize was that the man in the carriage was Laius. Laius was the former king of Thebes and was Oedipus’ biological father. When he killed Laius he fulfilled half of his prophecy.
This fulfillment is also an example of situational irony. It is situational irony because Oedipus believed he would be the hero and banish the murderer of Laius from the land. He believed he would end all the suffering, but in fact he was the murderer. Another example of irony that supports Sophocles’ idea that you are accountable for your actions is when Oedipus says, “… who declared that I was doomed to slay my father? But he is dead, and lies beneath the earth, and here I am, not having put my hand to any spear…” This is dramatic irony.
Dramatic irony occurs when the audience knows more than the characters in the story. In which case things said and events in the story take on different meanings to the characters and to the audience. In this case Oedipus thinks he has overcome his life’s prophecy because he did not kill the man he believed to be his father. But the audience knows that Oedipus’ real father is Laius. The audience also knows that Laius was the man on the road that Oedipus murdered. So to the audience this just ads to the suspense of Oedipus finding out that he is the murderer.
Foreshadowing also plays a huge role in showing Sophocles’ point that you are accountable for your own actions. In the play, Oedipus Rex, foreshadowing is used in the lines said by Jocasta, “No. Soon after he returned and found you ruling in Laius’ stead, he pled with me, with hand laid on mine, to send him to the fields, to the pastures of the flocks, that he might be far from the sight of this town. ” This is foreshadowing because the audience knows that the man fled because he saw Oedipus, the same man who had murdered his king, ruling the city.
Oedipus though only now is starting to question the event in which he killed men on the same road that the Laius was killed on. This is a foreshadowing of Oedipus finding out that he is Laius’ son and that he fulfilled the prophecy by killing his father and marrying his mother. Sophocles was trying to convey the message that you are responsible for your actions because you never know what might happen because of your mistakes. He shows this message in “Oedipus Rex”. He uses irony, foreshadowing and the flaws in Oedipus’ character to relay his message.