Sophocles’ Oedipus the King
has often inspired concurrent interpretations examining the tragic irony of the play and the traumatic neurosis of its protagonist. The Theban king epitomizes a man who knows everything but himself, and Sophocles’ use of irony allows Oedipus to discover the truth in a manner that Freud viewed in The Interpretation of Dreams
as “comparable to the work of a psychoanalysis.” Psychoanalytical readings of Oedipus at times depend greatly on his role as a doubled figure, but this article specifically investigates his doubled voice in order to demonstrate the interrelated, chiasmic relationship between Oedipus’ trauma and the trope of irony. It argues, in fact, that irony serves as the language, so to speak, of the traumatic experiences haunting the king and his city, but it also posits that this doubled voice compounds the irony of the play and its hero. In other words, in addition to the Sophoclean irony that dominates the work, the doubling of the king’s voice reveals a modified form of Socratic irony that contributes to the tragedy’s power. Consequently, even after the king’s recognition of the truth ultimately resolves the work’s tragic irony, Oedipus remains divided by a state of simultaneous knowledge and ignorance.
This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License
which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited