Oedipus Rex Blindness Essay

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In the play Oedipus Rex by Sophocles (rpt. in James P. Place, Literature: A Reader for Freshman Composition II, 2nd ed. [Boston: Pearson, 2012] 120-166) seeing and blindness are a symbolic theme throughout its entirety. There are times in a man’s life when he is faced with situations and circumstances in which he can knowingly or unknowingly be ignorant to the truth. When faced with such situations, a man may be the victim of his own demise. Oedipus Rex has a balance of irony as well as symbolism. There is a good deal in the play about seeing and blindness. Blindness is displayed as Oedipus does not have the realization that Iokaste is his real mother. In his heart he truly believes he is the biological son of Polybos and Merope. Blindness is displayed through Teiresias; the blind fortune teller who informs Oedipus that the King and Queen of Corinth are not his real parents, and that Iokaste and Laios are. It’s also displayed in himself; not only figuratively, but literally as well. He gouges himself in the eyes with Iokaste’s gold brooches and takes his own sight. The purpose of seeing and blindness being a major theme in this play is to show the readers or watchers that the truth may be right in front of their eyes, and they still may not fully be able to see what’s right in front of them. When Oedipus learns of the prophecy of him killing his father and marrying his mother, he is blinded to the fact that Polybos and Merope are not his real parents. As he runs away from Corinth and goes to Thebes, he is blind to the fact the man in which he killed where the three roads meet was indeed his father. He then solves the riddle to prove he can be King, marry the Queen, which would unknowingly to him, be his mother Iokaste. The fortune teller Teiresias who comes to Thebes and reveals to Oedipus he indeed did kill his father and marry his mother, is himself blind.

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