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Concepts Of Sight in Sophocles’ Play Oedipus

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Concepts Of Sight in Sophocles’ Play Oedipus

The concept of sight is one of the major motifs throughout Sophocles’ play Oedipus the King. The play revolves primarily around series of events caused by many people’s insight or lack there of. Oedipus does not see that he is caught up in a web of cruel destiny that he cannot escape. The gods demonstrate foresight and insight into the play. In addition to this, Tiresias has physical blindness but also has prophetic insight. Finally, both Oedipus and Jocasta portray types of mental blindness and shortsightedness. These are all examples of different uses of sight in the play Oedipus the King.

Oedipus is a hero, but sometimes he can not see the reality of this. He goes into states where he lacks mental insight, making rash decisions without thinking about the future or consequences. One of his biggest downfalls because of this shortsightedness is that he does not realize that his destiny is solely in the hands of the gods. After Oedipus is told as a young boy about the prophecy of his life, he can not "see" how he is destined to marry his mother and kill his father. Furthermore, because of his lack of insight he truly believes that he can move without the Oracle’s prophecy following him. No matter what Oedipus does, he has no control over what the gods have predetermined. The gods also punish the people of Thebes with hard times since it is these people who brought Oedipus into the land as their king. The gods do this in order to make the people see through Oedipus’ extreme pride and quick temper. The gods apparently think that the only way to get them to see what Oedipus has done is by causing the city pain and suffering. The gods use their insight to affect Oedipus’ life, family and city.

Although the gods do not initially favor Oedipus, his kingdom sees him as a noble ruler. Oedipus’ pride prevents him from seeing the truth and this leads to his great fall. His pride forces him to kill his father because he refuses to pay a toll and give up the right of way. Oedipus is so blinded by his pride that he can not accept the fact that he can not avoid his fate placed upon him by the gods. It is because he is not perfect and has these tragic flaws that in the end makes him a tragic hero. The greatest of his flaws happens to be his excessive pride and self-righteousness. Had Oedipus not listened to his pride, ...

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...has lost everything of importance: his kingdom, his family, and his happiness. In the beginning of Oedipus the King, Oedipus is portrayed as an admired and respected ruler. By the end of the play, he has been stripped of his political power, has blinded himself, and has exited as a broken man.

All these different uses of the concept of sight are found in Sophocles’ play Oedipus the King. Oedipus is noble in taking full responsibility for his troubled past, even though his troubles have been caused by Laius’ and Jocasta’s blind way of handling their problems. With a little help from the gods, who did not hold Oedipus in favor, his blind choices and quick temper lead to his great fall. Even though Oedipus is not physically blind like Tiresias, he is blind to the actuality of the actions of his life. Because of this, it is ironic that Oedipus is morally blind when physically he can see. When Oedipus finally sees the truth, he realizes he is morally blind and then physically blinds his eyes. He realizes that his destiny is in the hands of the gods, and there was nothing he could do to change that. These are all different concepts of sight that revolve around the story of Oedipus.
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