Blindness and Sight - Sight Versus Insight in Oedipus the King (Oedipus Rex)

Blindness and Sight - Sight Versus Insight in Oedipus the King (Oedipus Rex)

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Sight Versus Insight in Oedipus the King

    "Anyone who has common sense will remember that the bewilderments of the eye are of two kinds, and arise from two causes, either from coming out of the light or from going into the light,which is true of the mind's eye, quite as much as the bodily eye; and he who remembers this when he sees anyone whose vision is perplexed and weak, will not be too ready to laugh; he will ask whether that soul of man has come out of the brighter life, and is unable to see because unaccustomed to the dark, or having turned from darkness to the day is dazzled by excess light. And he will count the other one happy in his condition and state of being, and he will pity the other"

(Plato, The Republic)


The paradoxical coexistence of blindness and insight is portrayed in Sophocles' Oedipus the King, in which Oedipus experiences a devastating yet redeeming realization that the "vision" he possesses is nothing but false pride and blindness. Suffering a complete reversal, Oedipus nevertheless maintains the fortitude to actively develop and endure intense suffering in order to attain extraordinary insight; deliberately grasping the kairos, Oedipus experiences a double bewilderment of the eye - both a physical blindness and, more ignificantly, a spiritual enlightenment, resulting from his "[h]aving turned from darkness to the day [to be] dazzled by excess light (Plato, The Republic).


"The eye is the lamp of the body. If your eyes are good, your whole body will be full of light. But if your eyes are bad, your whole body will be full of darkness. If then the light within you is darkness, how great is that darkness!" (Matthew 6:22-23).


Oedipus' "eyes are bad" and the dayli...

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...ham: University Press of America, Inc: 1996.

Hamilton,  Edith "The Collected Dialogues of Plato"  , Eds. Edith Hamilton and Huntington Cairns, 526-574. New York: Pantheon Books, 1961.

Ignatius Holy Bible. Revised Standard Version, Catholic Edition. San Francisco: Ignatius Press, 1966.

Knox, Bernard. Sophocles. The Three Theban Plays. Trans. Robert Fagles. New York: Penguin, 1984.

Regal, Charles. Oedipus Tyrannus: Tragic Heroism and the Limits of Knowledge. New York: Twayne, 1993.

Sophocles. "Oedipus the King" Classics in World Literature. Ed by Wood, Kerry et. Al. Glenview, IL: Scott-Foresman, 1989.

Marra, James L., Zelnick, Stephen C., and Mattson, Mark T.   IH 51 Source Book: Plato,  The Republic, pp. 77-106. Kendall/Hunt Publishing Company, Dubuque, Iowa, 1998.

Plato. The Republic. Trans. Desmond Lee. 1955. 2nd ed. London: Penguin, 1987.

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