When in doubt, ask a blind man

It may seem quite illogical to us, but Oedipus’ first act to finding Laius’ murder is to ask the seer, Tiresias. If you are unfamiliar with the story of Tiresias, you can read about it here.

Read the conversation between Oedipus and Tiresias 340-526.


  • What do you notice about the structure of this section (and indeed much of the play)?
  • How does Tiresias’ and Oedipus’ relationship evolve over the conversation?

Task: Look carefully at Tiresias’ monologue at 464. What effect does this have on the rest of the play? 

Oh The Irony

Though it is definitely not the first instance of dramatic irony in the text, Tiresias certainly doesn’t aim for subtlety in his speech. More than merely identifying the feature as simply an aspect of a play that the characters are unaware of but that the audience is, we should consider the effect on the audience. Frequently, dramatic irony “serves to emphasize how limited human understanding can be even when it is most plausible, and how painful can be the costs of the misunderstandings” (Baker, 2000).

If you haven’t done so already, make sure you have identified the irony in Tiresias’ monologue above.

Task: locate atleast three other examples of dramatic irony in the text. For each instance exaplain the effect on the audience by way of:

  • How does these examples of irony depend on the audiences understanding of Hamartia?
  • What feelings might these arouse in the audience?


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