Oedipus Rex and Blindness
In Oedipus Rex research papers, a student should point out how Sophocles presented many classic themes, including man's struggle between fate and free will.
Sophocles used the concept of blindness is revealed and repeated throughout the play. Impress your professor by including in your research paper that you understand the play and can point to examples throughout it by demonstrating the following:
- Blindness is central to the thematic and metaphorical elements in Oedipus Rex.
- Blindness provides the play's irony, in that only the play's blind characters see the truth.
In this play your Oedipus Rex and Blindness literature research paper, Sophocles uses the concept of blindness as an ironic symbol for the truth.
Blindness is revealed and repeated as a key symbol throughout Oedipus Rex. As the above analysis demonstrates, blindness is also used to convey many thematic and literary elements in the play. From the beginning, blindness is an ironic symbol for truth. The theme of fate is conveyed through the blind Tiresias, and free will is symbolized when Oedipus blinds himself. Both Tiresias and the blind Oedipus are the characters who seem to see the truth most clearly, as if sight is an unnecessary requirement for knowledge of the truth.
Oedipus' moral blindness contributes as his status as a tragic hero. As the play opens, he has already unknowingly fulfilled his life prophecy by killing his father, King Laius and marrying his mother, Queen Jocasta. Oedipus and Jocasta have conceived four children from this incestuous marriage. As a result of the fulfillment of this prophecy, Oedipus' sins are the cause of a plague that threatens to decimate the city of Thebes. Out of love for his people and determination to save his beloved city, Oedipus sends his brother- in-law, Creon to Delphi, Apollo the Prophet's oracle, to learn what he could do to save the city. Creon returns to Thebes with the news that the plague can be defeated if Laius' murderer is found. He is told to "pay the killers back -- whoever is responsible." Oedipus is insistent on finding Laius' murderer and summons Tiresias, the blind prophet who reveals that Oedipus himself is the murderer. In his moral blindness, Oedipus denies the truth and accuses Creon and Tiresias of conspiring to take over his throne. Oedipus' persistence in finding the truth eventually leads him to realize that Tiresias and Creon are innocent. Once Oedipus realizes that he is the murderer, he accepts the responsibility of his actions by gouging his eyes so that he will never see the evil that he has caused again. He also bans himself from Thebes forever despite Creon's willingness to permit him to stay. Ironically, the play begins with Oedipus having physical sight but moral blindness, yet ends in physical blindness and moral insight.
Oedipus Rex is an example of renunciation. Specifically, a tragic experience under certain conditions which primarily causes the inevitable defeat of a character's will to live by his spiritual aspirations. The process of this defeat necessarily involves suffering and distress that arouse fear and pity (which Aristotle said were to be purged through tragedy). Renunciation is the ultimate result of the intensity of the dramatic conflict between worldliness (the will to live) and spiritual aspiration.