Dr. Christopher Grignard
12 February 2015
Blindness as a Central Theme in Sophocles Oedipus The King
In the play Oedipus The King by Sophocles, blindness is a central theme and is constantly recurring. There are many examples of this shown throughout the play; however, the most prominent is seen through the characters of Oedipus and Tiresias. Oedipus is unable to see the truth in things even though he is not blind. Tiresias, the prophet is physically blind, yet is able to see more truth in actions and prophesies than Oedipus. The ongoing theme of blindness in Oedipus the King by Sophocles aids in the dramatic irony and tragic elements of the play.
Blindness can be seen to entail many different perspectives. People…show more content… He is blinded by the truth of his life due to the unknowing of who his parents were. This metaphorical blindness is taken so far that Oedipus gets angry whenever someone mentions the prophecy and the probable truth of it. Tiresias declares that Oedipus “live[s] in hideous shame with those most dear to [him]… [and] cannot see the evil” (321). Although Tiresias begins telling about the truth by hinting at certain situations, Oedipus still remains oblivious and completely blinded. Tiresias is unable to keep to himself any longer and begins providing insight to the prophecy, proving that Oedipus is "blind... [and] cannot see the wretchedness of [his] life" (322). As the story starts to unravel, the truth is forced out and revealed to Oedipus. Due to this, and the revelation that it was because of Oedipus that Thebes was stricken with trouble, the blindness is taken to a physical level. Near the very end of the tragedy when Oedipus uncovers everything he looks up to the sky and praises the "light [and] look[s] upon [it] for the last time" (354). The physical light gives way to mental images that Oedipus is unable to see with physical sight. The truth is revealed and Oedipus is unable to cope with it, therefore causing him to blind himself by gauging out his eyes. This causes him to finally see the horrific…show more content… When a person is literally blind they come to the conclusion and understanding that they will more than likely be blind for the rest of their lives. They will learn new ways of navigating the world and dealing with the horrible news. If a person is blind to the truth of things, there is nothing they can do to deal with this until they learn the truth and begin to live with it. For many people when they do learn of the truth they tend to feel arrogant and act as though things could not be true. In the case of Oedipus and Jocasta in Sophocles Oedipus the King, this is exactly the case. Oedipus is figuratively blinded not only to the world but also to himself. To deal with the figurative blindness, he physically blinds himself by “looking straight up into the points, [and] [digging] them down the sockets of his eyes”. Jocasta, learning the truth of her figurative blindness, decides to kill herself. Throughout the play, blindness leads to truth, which ultimately leads back to blindness. Oedipus is forced to deal with the consequences of the prophecy and everything that has happened. He blinds himself, thus serving as a punishment and a reminder of “the suffering, for all the world to see”. Tiresias, Jocasta and Oedipus were all blind at one point in their lives, however, they all managed to find the