The Illusion of Oedipus Rex

The Illusion of Oedipus Rex

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Oedipus portrays a tragic protagonist absorbed in a web of illusion that he believes to be real. Oedipus sincerely believes that his life is reality and that he is the son of King Polybus, the King of Thebes, and the husband of Queen Jocasta. However, what Oedipus does not grasp is that he fulfilled the prophecy the gods sent for him.
"How dreadful knowledge of truth can be when there is no help in truth! I knew this well but did not act on it; else I should not have come" (Line 101). Tiresias admits his grief to Oedipus and tells him that it is his job to tell the truth. Although Oedipus cannot see past reality, Tiresias, who is literally blind, sees the truth in Oedipus’s life. "But I say you, with both eyes, are blind: you cannot see the wretchedness of your life..." (196). As Oedipus argues with Tiresias, he says in return, “You blame my temper but you do not see your own that lives within you; it is me you chide” (369-72).
Oedipus is doomed to his fate so he uses his freewill to purge the truth (WowEssays). He uses this illusion to control his life so he doesn’t feel so scared of the prophecy ever coming true. He goes to his hometown Thebes to get away from the prophecy, and while he was on the road he murders his father not knowing that it was his real father, fulfilling one part of the prophecy. When he arrived in Thebes he married his own mother, Jocasta, and believed he was the king of Thebes. Jocasta believed her son, Oedipus, was dead, but as pieces of information began to fit she realized she had married her son and that the prophecy was coming true. Nevertheless, Jocasta’s blindness lead her to commit suicide.
When Oedipus hears that he fulfilled the prophecy, he moves from being in power to becoming an outcast (123HelpMe). “They will all come out clearly! Light of the sun, let me look upon you no more after today! I who first say the light bred of a match accursed, and accursed in my living with them I liked with, cursed in my killing” (1297-1302). Oedipus presumed that he deserved to be punished for his treacherous deed, and decided to gouged out his eyes as a symbol of opening his eyes to the truth (123HelpMe).

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Oedipus gets so tangled in the realm of illusion and idiocy that he blocks the truth. As reality reveals itself to him, he realizes the fulfillment of the prophecy and his wrongdoings. Foolishness protected him, but the knowledge of the truth destroyed him.

Works Cited
Sophocles. Oedipus Rex - Literary Touchstone Edition. New York: Prestwick House, Inc., 2005. Print.

"Hamlet and Oedipus Rex: The Birth of Kings." 123HelpMe.com. 03 Dec 2009
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"WowEssays.com - Oedipus Rex." Book Reports, Free Essays, Cliff Notes. Web. 03 Dec. 2009. .
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