Oedipus Rex

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Sight is a very important sense to a human being. It is one of the things generally taken for granted, but without it, many people would find themselves helpless and lost. The eyes are used to navigate, to interact, and to learn. However, even with sight people can still go astray and often become oblivious to the most apparent truths. This mental blindness can be more detrimental to one’s life than physical blindness. In the play Oedipus Rex, the title character Oedipus suffers from this kind of blindness. He is blinded from the truth his whole life, thus leading to his unfortunate fate. In the characters of Oedipus and Teiresias, Sophocles uses blind and sight as motif to effectively show how one’s uncontrolled emotions are blinding, and why physical sight is not needed for one to see the truth.

Oedipus is very arrogant and allows his emotions to blind him and prevent himself from making sound decisions. In the beginning of the play, Oedipus is revered by his people. They adore him for solving the riddle of the Sphinx, and see him as the “wisest in the ways of God (38).” Accordingly, Oedipus takes in all the praise, becoming prideful and believes himself to be invincible. Upon hearing that the plague was caused by the murder of Laios, Oedipus takes it upon himself to find the murderer, saying, “Then once more I must bring what is dark to light (135).” His belief in himself impels Oedipus to declare in front of all his people that he will find the murderer and save Thebes. He does not say that he will try, or that he will do his, but that he will undoubtedly solve the case. Oedipus sets his situation up for failure. Consequently, if he does not succeed the people of Thebes will lose faith in him and think of him as incompete...

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...uilt, How could I look men frankly in the eyes? (1350-1351)” He is filled with grief and guilt, knowing the shame he has brought to his family and exiles himself. He is now able to look back and recognize the consequences of his hubris. Oedipus blinding himself symbolizes his new-found knowledge, and his ability to finally see.

Oedipus Rex is a tragedy in which Sophocles effectively shows that for one to see the truth, one does not need physical sight. Oedipus was very much oblivious to his reality despite his vision. Teiresias on the other hand could always see the truth. His mental blindness leaves Oedipus beaten and destroyed by fate. This blindness is worse than physically blindness, as one who cannot use their eyes are aware of their situation, where as those who are blind mentally may not realize that they are headed the wrong path until it is too late.
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