Sophocles Dramatic Irony

Sophocles’ play "Oedipus Rex" is a well known Greek tragedy, in which dramatic irony is used liberally and is an essential tool to the development of the play. Dramatic irony is what occurs when the meaning of the situation is understood by the audience but not by the characters in the play. As a result of Sophocles' use of dramatic irony in "Oedipus Rex", readers are aware of the tragic truth before the characters within the story (particularly Oedipus himself) have any knowledge of it.
Sophocles’ plays were based on mythological events that were common knowledge to the population of Greece during the so-called "Golden Period". As a result, the audience of Sophocles’ productions were already aware of the outcome of his plays. Sophocles uses dramatic irony by retelling an old tale, where the audience is aware of how the play will end, but is still intrigued by the irony present in the story.
Sophocles uses dramatic irony throughout the play.  The audience feels pathos towards the main character, Oedipus, and by employing dramatic irony Sophocles creates suspense, even though the audience is aware of the outcome of the play.

Oedipus makes a speech to comfort the grieving people of Thebes in which dramatic irony is invoked:

. “Upon the murderer I invoke this curse - whether he is one man and all unknown, or one of many - may he wear out his life in misery to miserable doom!”[1]

The people of Thebes come to Oedipus, their new king, asking him to rid the city of the plague that is causing death and destruction.  Oedipus tries to reassure the people of Thebes. He demands that the murderer of Laius, the former king of Thebes, reveal himself as he believes that the plague will only end when the assassin is banished. Yet in reality, he is unaware that it was he who killed Laius. Oedipus intends to curse this murderer, out of a deep sense of anger at not being able to denounce him personally. Little does he know that in cursing Laius’ murderer to live in...