Shame, Equality, and Blindness: Oedipus the King by Sophocles

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Throughout Sophocles’ Oedipus the King, shame, equality, and blindness are all themes presented. Tiresias, a blind prophet attempts to convince King Oedipus that he has lived a shameful life by bringing light to the truth that Oedipus had no idea who his real parents are, and that he himself is the one who killed Laius. Tiresias, though blind, can clearly see the truth and shame that Oedipus lives in, while Oedipus, though he can see, is blind to the shameful truth he has brought upon himself and his family. Three quotes from Oedipus the King demonstrate how Tiresias attempts to show Oedipus how by not being able to see the truth about what he has done, he has unknowingly brought shame upon his family and will soon stare into darkness. In the first quote, Tiresias explains to Oedipus that he lives with his family in shame. Tiresias: "You live, unknowing, with those nearest to you in the greatest shame. You do not see the evil." (Sophocles 1072) By using the word, “unknowing,” Sophocles lets the reader know how Oedipus has no clue as to how he is living his life. Oedipus believes that everything in his life is perfect. The phrase, “those nearest to you,” refers to Oedipus’s wife Jocasta, and their four children, Antigone, Ismene, Polyneices, and Etocles. “Greatest shame,” is how Oedipus is living his life with his family. Oedipus is living a disgraceful, dishonorable, and improper life. By using the phrase, “You do not see the evil,” the reader is able to further grasp the idea that Oedipus is the one who brought the curse upon Thebes that is devouring Oedipus and his family from the inside out. In the second quote, Tiresias tells Oedipus that even though he is blind, he is neither inferior nor superior to the King,... ... middle of paper ...," shows how Tiresias finalizes his argument by allowing Oedipus to process what he has said and if Oedipus thinks Tiresias is wrong about his accusations, Tiresias has no understanding of a true prophet. Tiresias, a blind man could always see the morbid truth and shame to Oedipus' life. Throughout Oedipus the King, Tiresias remained confident in his belief that he was equal to the king not in physical sight-seeing, but in human social rights. Sophocles' succeeds in telling the readers how sometimes fame and fortune are not that important when lies and misfortune are responsible for getting you there. Tiresias and Oedipus, though fictional characters, can be resembled in today's society. Works Cited Kirszner, Laurie G., and Stephen R. Mandell. "Staging." Portable Literature: Reading, Reacting, Writing. 8th ed. Boston, MA: Wadsworth, 2010. 1072-1074. Print.

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