Comparison/Contrast "Oedipus-Rex" and the "Metamorphosis": A comparison between Kafka's and Sophocle's use of dramatic irony and tragedy.

Essay by anto257High School, 11th grade May 2006

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In dramatic irony, the audience is more aware of the character's situation than the character himself. It involves a naive hero whose understanding of his surroundings is opposed to what is truly happening to him or her. What makes this ironic is that the author is creating a deluded main character in order to make the audience more aware of his reality. In both Sophocles' Oedipus Rex and Franz Kafka's Metamorphosis this method is used in order to create an ironic world for their hero, where neither Oedipus nor Gregor are fully informed of their tragic standing in their world. The use of dramatic irony in both of these works of literature is what leads to the main character's tragic end. In the Metamorphosis, Gregor never finds out the truth, arousing pity for the audience, while Oedipus does, which makes Frank Kafka's novel even more tragic and ironic than Oedipus-Rex.

In order to state that Gregor Samsa's story is more tragic than Oedipus', one has to define what tragedy means. According to the official Online Dictionary tragedy is a "drama where the protagonist is overcome by some superior force or circumstance; excites terror or pity" ( The story of Gregor "excites" in the reader, dread, horror, and a sense of misfortune due to his circumstance. Gregor Samsa was at first a spineless salesman who was exploited by his family and one morning, turns into a vermin. Although Gregor feels shame for being a burden, he does not realize the reality of his situation: he does not realize that his family hates him. In Gregor's last breaths, he reflects upon his life and "thought back on his family with deep emotion and love" (Kafka, 54). Gregor has the illusion that his family still loves him regardless of his state, when in...