Oedipus Rex by Sophocles

Writing Style

Sophocles masterfully uses dramatic irony in Oedipus Rex. Dramatic irony occurs when the irony is known by the audience but not to the characters. Sophocles also makes use of heavy foreshadowing. The repetition of the same oracle but by different people not only sets the plays suspense, but also foreshadows what will happen later in the play.

The play is written in free verse with the meter of the play alternating between lyric and iambic trimeters. There are also a few instances of rhyme, appearing only in the beginning and final scenes, and usually only by Oedipus and the chorus. The instances of rhyming are not in the scenes with rising action and exude a sense of confidence in what is taking place in the play. The rhyming occurs when there is little rising action or tension, and when the characters accept their situation, like Oedipus’ lyrical lines in the final scene of the play. He has fully accepted his fate of living blind in exile and this is when his lines rhyme the most.

The use of choral interludes is typical for the Greek Tragedy structure, where the chorus acts as a way to comment on what is going on in the play. The chorus in Oedipus Rex acts as a commentary on the plot, as opposed to an explanation of what is going on in the play. The members of the chorus, the various senators, know just as much about the plot as the other characters in the play. It is noteworthy that the length of the choral interludes decreases as the play goes on; they start off the play as being multiple paragraphs but the final chorus is only one paragraph. This is indicative of the play’s pace, and how it starts off slow and builds speed as it progresses. By having such a short final choruses, it shows that there is little to say about the final situation of Oedipus, and gives the dialogue between Oedipus and Creon greater emphasis.

The tradition of the Greek Tragedy is that plays typically take place in one place, in one day, with one main plot. Oedipus Rex follows this form, focusing on Oedipus’ horrific discovery of his origins and not delving into other characters, even Jocasta, who is also experiencing a similar horror.

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