Irony in Oedipus Rex
It is ironic that after Oedipus learns of his true origins and is able to “see” the truth, he blinds himself, regressing into the “darkness” and “blindness” of ignorance again. His once symbolic blindness has now manifested into self-inflicted physical blindness.
As is the nature of Greek drama, audiences would’ve known why Tiresias’s information would not be helpful to Oedipus, making this statement a form of dramatic irony. To contemporary audiences unfamiliar with the story, however, Tiresias’s reluctance to reveal what he knows is suspicious, adding a level of mystery to the plot.
It is ironic that Oedipus says this since the plague upon their city is believed to be brought on by the gods’ wrath. Sophocles examines the dual nature of the greek gods, who would bring death and hardship on an entire city, but does so in the name of justice for a king’s wrongful murder. The gods should be trusted but also feared in cases of wrongdoing, which Oedipus doesn’t seem to be aware of yet.