Unconscious Irony In “Oedipus The King,” By Sophocles Essay Example For College

Tragic heroes often embrace unconscious irony, leading to their downfall. In any literary work, it becomes fascinating when some of the characters are self-denial after engaging in different heinous actions unknowingly and later face the consequences after realizing the truth. Denotatively, unconscious irony is when various characters within the play have a wrong impression regarding a specific scenario, whereas the audience knows the truth and the actual misinterpretation (Haigh, “Haigh on Unconscious Irony” 950). The reader seems to know more than what the characters within the specific piece recognize. King Oedipus is a character in the text “Oedipus the King” who creates a view of unconscious irony among readers. He receives signals regarding his evil acts from the prophets but ignores them and continues to do what seems to be the best for him. He refutes any advice which goes against his wishes, considering that he wants to be told what he likes to hear and not the truth. Therefore, this study intends to explore unconscious irony in the play “Oedipus the King” by Sophocles, as it is evident in the main character Oedipus’s first speech, his interaction with Tiresias, and with Creon.

Oedipus’ opening speech critically develops an understanding of unconscious irony. In the dialogue, it is ironic considering that he intends to find the person behind Laius’s death, yet, he is the one that unknowingly killed him (Haigh, “Haigh on Unconscious Irony” 914). He declares that if there are individuals that intend to shield the murder, they will face the consequences and be ostracized. Oedipus acts as a judge by stating that the murder of Laius needs to be considered as an act of wretchedness and evil (Haigh, “Haigh on Unconscious Irony” 915). As a result, it becomes ironic for the audience to see King Oedipus lamenting regarding the death of his predecessor, whereas he is the one who caused his death. As Haigh mentions, Oedipus is blind to his destiny and fate because he does not consider that his actions and words are leading to his downfall (916). He is a tragic hero since he makes reckless mistakes, leading to his downfall at the end of the story. Thus, the opening speech exemplifies the idea of unconscious irony, whereby Oedipus the king takes tough measures against himself, unknowing that he is behind Laius, the king of Thebes’s death.

King Oedipus’ interaction with the blind prophet Tiresias, presents a sense of unconscious irony. Tiresias offers a critical clue that the individual who killed Laius is both the father and brother to his children and his wife’s son (Haigh, Haigh on Unconscious Irony” 916). The prophet gives another clue that the truth will bring pain rather than happiness to the king. Tiresias fears for his life and decides to say the truth, but Oedipus refutes the sentiments that he is the man behind Laius’ death, accusing the prophet of being corrupted by Creon (Haigh 920). The audience comprehends that Oedipus is blind to the clues which Tiresias gives to him regarding Laius’s death and his marriage with Jocasta. It is this blindness that the audience relates to unconscious irony. The occurrences surrounding Oedipus represent Aristotle’s definition of a tragic hero, considering that Oedipus’ downfall was tied more to his fate than his wickedness (Haigh, “Haigh on Oedipus the Murderer” 921). In other words, Oedipus fails because he does not want to accept the truth told by the Thebes prophets and not due to his poor governance. Connectedly, the interaction between the king and Tiresias presents an understanding of unconscious irony.

Oedipus’s interaction with Creon, his brother-in-law, exemplifies unconscious irony among the audience. Sophocles develops a scenario whereby Oedipus accuses Creon of killing King Laius (Haigh, “Haigh and Oedipus’s Interaction and Accusation” 923). He extends the personal differences between him and Creon to the point of doubting and guessing that he is the person behind Laius’ death. To the audience’s understanding, it is ironic when King Oedipus accuses his relative, Creon, to have murdered Laius, yet it is himself who caused this incident while quarreling on the streets (Haigh, “Oedipus’s Interaction and Accusation” 924). The reader becomes aware that Oedipus seems not to comprehend anything that happened around him but rather allows his instincts to misguide him. If Creon was sensitive to what people say, he could have questioned himself regarding the individual’s personality that he killed on the road. Oedipus acts as though he killed nobody in the recent past. As a king and a leader, he is supposed to depend on evidence and proof in this case. However, he speaks detrimental accusations regarding Creon without basing his arguments on facts (Haigh, “Oedipus’s Interaction and Accusation” 926). The audience conceptualizes the argument that King Oedipus is unaware of the surrounding, illustrating unconscious irony.

In conclusion, it is paramount noting that unconscious irony occurs when the character is aware of the various happenings around him. The audience seems to be more informed regarding the different happenings in the story than the main character. The King is unaware that he is behind Laius’s death even after being told the truth by Tiresias but rather accuses Creon of plotting to taint his name before people in public. Arguably, Oedipus represents a tragic hero as presented by Aristotle in the recognition and reversal concept, whereby the hero realizes his faults after falling, hence changing his plot. The epitome consequences of unconscious irony are regrets, which subsequently lead to suicide and other-related attempts to kill himself, as presented by King Oedipus. He accepts responsibility for his actions and subsequently plunges two gold pins into his eyes, deliriously asking for a sword to kill himself. Oedipus in the play “Oedipus the King” exemplifies unconscious irony. Above all, leaders need to be sensitive to their surroundings and listen to other people’s advice as it helps them develop and embrace success because they can curb different ordeals in time.

Works Cited

Haigh, Elam A. “Aristotle’s Concept of Tragedy: The Tragic Hero,” Literature An Introduction to Fiction, Poetry, Drama, and Writing: An Anthology, edited by Kennedy & Dana Gioia, 2013, pp. 905-921.

Haigh, Elam, A. “Recognition and Reversal” Literature An Introduction to Fiction, Poetry, Drama, and Writing: An Anthology, edited by Kennedy & Dana Gioia, 2013, pp. 923- 947.

Haigh, Elam A. “The Irony of Sophocles,” Literature An Introduction to Fiction, Poetry, Drama, and Writing: An Anthology, edited by Kennedy & Dana Gioia, 2013, pp. 948-951.

Criticism Of Medical Model Of Psychological Disorders


Psychological disorders are one of the global problems of our time. For example, depression has been encountered by almost every person -either in person or in a friend’s experience. Lots of people are continually living with anxiety disorders. Such disorders are generally considered mental illnesses. At the same time, people who can adapt to the environment and successfully solve various household problems are considered mentally healthy. If a person is unable to do so, it is usually a deviation, illness. Even though the medical model of mental disorders has long been accepted and widespread, some scientists consider it inappropriate.

Thomas Szasz’s Criticism of the Medical Model of Psychological Disorders

The medical model of the disease is centered on the study of natural factors as external causes of the disease. However, Thomas Szasz criticizes the general concept of mental illness, as well as the therapeutic methods used in its treatment (Weiten et al., 2018). He points out that psychiatry does not investigate biological structure but behavior. That means that deviation is not studied through cells or tissues of the body, but through socially accepted norms, which is the wrong approach.

I agree with Szasz in some aspects. For example, often through mental disorders, a person tries to explain to the surroundings how difficult it is for him or her. In such a case, moral assistance and support are needed. However, I see a sharp contradiction in his assertion that aid should be provided entirely voluntarily. That statement does not mean I am in favor of enforced treatment. Nevertheless, often people suffering from mental disorders tend to disappear into themselves and cannot seek help – they need to be pushed to do so.

Treating Psychological Disorders

The modern rhythm of life is such that the mental state is most susceptible to negative influence. I believe this supports Szasz’s view that the causes of the disorders are in the circumstances of life. A considerable number of stresses are everywhere: at work, at home, on the internet. A massive flow of information comes to a person from all sides and often carries a negative character. Stress causes human problems, including physical health problems.

However, it has been proven that the roots of mental disorders are not only in lifestyle but also in biology, often in genetics (Kring & Johnson, 2018). For this reason, I am sure that their treatment should be complex and include psychological therapy in the form of interviews with a specialist, and if necessary (complex or neglected case), drug treatment.

For some disorders, drug therapy is necessary; in the case of others, it is only one of the possible alternatives. For example, depression should be treated by drugs and psychotherapy combined together. Moreover, I think it is important to note that medication makes meaningful life possible for those suffering from quite severe disorders. For example, they help to get rid of hallucinations, obsessions. However, isolation and continuous care of medical personnel, as in cases of mental illness, are not mandatory here.


Thus, psychology and psychotherapy, their methods continuously develop and change. Thanks to researchers like Thomas Szasz, one can look at the goals and approaches of these sciences from the other side. Moreover, a critical look at such studies will also help to identify irrelevant aspects and add missing ones, as Szasz pointed on the role of the surrounding atmosphere, but missed the biological reasons for disorders.


Kring, A. M. & Johnson, S. L. (2018). Abnormal psychology: The science and treatment of psychological disorders. John Wiley & Sons.

Weiten, W., Dunn, D. S., & Hammer, E. Y. (2018). Psychology applied to modern life: Adjustment in the 21st century. Cengage Learning.

Stress In Women Before And After Myocardial Infarction


Stress is a risk factor for coronary heart disease (CHD); which is found in women before and after myocardial infarction (MI). Unfortunately, very little is known about the insight of women’s daily life. This study aims at explaining and investigating women’s awareness of stress before, and after an MI. The study uses two interviews with women suffering an MI; where the first is conducted at the hospital with a sample size of twenty participants, and the second takes place 4-10 months after the MI with a sample size of 14 respondents. The respondents’ responses are tape-recorded and the data obtained from the two interviews analyzed using a phenomenography approach.

From the findings, the stress came from within (personal traits) or from the environment. The stress before MI is a result of the roles the women have to play in their daily life where they have no control over their daily life. After being discharged from the hospital they lacked the strength they had before, in carrying out their daily activities and hence needed support. Greater emphasis is needed on stress as a risk factor and at the same time imparting knowledge to the nurses in the coronary care unit, and primary health care on how to help these women to be accustomed to their daily life before and after the MI

Introduction and purpose of the study

Challenging, harmful and threatening events bring about stress in life depending on how an individual evaluates them. Myocardial infarction (MI) included in coronary heart disease (CHD); has been a health hazard that leads to premature morbidity and mortality. Long-term gains of health are attributed to advancement in health styles but unfortunately; most women do not maintain an advocated lifestyle change, which leads to their stressful life. Women recognize stress as the main cause of MI, hence needs to be prevented since they develop cardiac suffering symptoms after MI more than men. MI is viewed as a disruption to women’s family and social commitment; and therefore, nurses running women’s clinics should recognize that CHD further leads to death in women. The purpose of this study was targeted to give a description and exploration of women’s awareness of stress, before and after MI (Polit & Beck, 2009).

Women’s own insight of their daily life as far as stress before and after MI is concerned, has not been largely known from the literature reviewed. The sample of women studied was from coronary care unit in southern Sweden, where a University Hospital was studied (Polit & Beck, 2009).

Study design

The qualitative analysis of stress was described by an approach stirred by phenomenography which was developed to portray, examine and understand human being’s experiences of different occurrences in their surrounding world. This shows how something is experienced; and is an awareness that symbolizes something implied, which needs to be said or not as it has never been revealed (Polit & Beck, 2009).

Methods used

The Interview method used; involved where women were sampled from the coronary care unit with respect to age, social status, education and the number of children they had. On the first occasion, twenty women were interviewed on their second or third day in the hospital. Out of these twenty women, fourteen of them participated during the second interview which was performed roughly 4 to 10 months after the MI. Out of the six who did not participate in the second interview, two had died and four were rejected to be interviewed. To ease the interview the researchers constructed an interview guide which was based on the experiences they had as cardiac nurses; and also, from the literature review. Women were given confidence in explaining their situations, by using their own words when answering the questions. The tape recording was another method used by the researchers since they tape-recorded the explanations of the women; when they were answering the interview questions (Polit & Beck, 2009).

Sampling and data collection

A broad sample with a maximum variation was employed by strategic selection; which was done in relation to age, social status, education and the number of children the women had. The sampling size was manageable making it easier during data analysis. Sampling was conducted twice with the first one comprising of twenty participants, and the second one having fourteen participants in order to come up with the required information. The data regarding stress in women before and after MI was collected through the interview method; where interview guide questions were formulated to be answered by the participants. Two sets of interviews were performed one to the women on their second day of hospitalization and the other one carried out after 4, 6, and 10 months after the MI. The questions asked were simple and consistent with the topic of study. These interview questions showed how explicitly the researcher’s assumptions and biases were treated. The participants were informed of the confidentiality of information given, and participation was voluntary where participants could withdraw at any time (Polit & Beck, 2009).

Data analysis

Phenomenographic procedures were used in data analysis which comprised seven steps. The researcher familiarized himself with the whole text in order to have an overall recognition of the experienced occurrence. The researcher read the participants’ responses in order to get the perception of stress among women. There was a comparison of how the participants experienced the occurrence, in identifying the sources of variation or agreement. Statements with similarities were clustered into suitable patterns within the overall structure of the awareness. Similarities within each cluster of statements were described as a preliminary group, and the center of concentration moved from the relationship within awareness to relationships between the groups. The groups were named differently as an expression of the essence from their consent. The groups were hence compared in terms of similarities and differences in the levels of understanding, articulated by the respondents (Polit & Beck, 2009).

The findings were described in different categories. The descriptive category showed how the respondents recognized stress from an individual viewpoint. Stress in women was found to be present a long time before the MI; as was indicated by the four perceptions that showed women’s stress before and after the MI. On the other hand, only the fifth perception showed women’s stress after the MI. Conflicts and pressures in life were the common reasons for stress. After the MI, women wanted to experience the same daily life as it was before the MI that made them become stressed because they lacked control over their daily life. As the women were trying to have their daily life organized, there were instances of restlessness, prolonged anxiety, and worry which emanated from within them as they felt that their lives were meaningless. This stressful life was indicated as resulting in their MI which triggered their ill health. These diseases include diabetes, rheumatoid arthritis and severe headaches (Polit &Beck, 2009).

On the other hand, when the women returned home from the coronary care unit, they lacked enough strength for carrying out their daily activities; hence instances of tiredness were indicated as stress after the MI. The women were also preoccupied with thoughts about the MI; especially the younger ones who thought that only the elderly women would suffer an MI (Polit & Beck, 2009).

The descriptive category illustrated the women’s perception of stress in relation to the environment, with five insights indicating that stress is found both before and after the MI. The women were having responsibilities to do with the whole family, another person, or work which was considered as resulting in the MI. After the MI, they wanted to take the same responsibilities they would; before the MI but on realizing that they lacked the strength they had before, their daily lives turned to be stressful (Polit & Beck, 2009).


This study indicated that stress is a primary and relevant topic to be discussed as it can be seen that these Swedish women; were stressed as far as the roles they were to play in their daily life were concerned. Experiences of women regarding stress to do with an MI; had not been addressed before. Therefore, to prevent CHD and evade stress in women’s daily life, more concentration needs to be centered on stress as an important risk factor. Supporting the women after their discharge from the hospital is needed since stress originates from the women themselves, or the immediate environment. The study implies the necessity of understanding women’s experiences, both before and after the MI in order to appraise, arrange, execute and assess nursing care. Information on the prevention of CHD and second MI should be provided to the general public, and employees of nursing care (Polit & Beck, 2009).


Polit, D., & Beck, C. (2009). Essentials of Nursing Research: Appraising Evidence for Nursing Practice, seventh Edition. Philadelphia: Lippincott Williams & Wilkins Press.

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