Blindness In Oedipus Rex Essay, Research Paper
Blindness in “Oedipus the King”
In Sophocles’ play, “Oedipus the King”, one of the main themes is blindness. The
author uses physical blindness, as well as intellectual blindness to illustrate Oedipus’ status
as a tragic hero.
In the beginning of the play, Oedipus has perfect physical vision. However, he is
“blind” and ignorant to the truth about himself and his past. He desperately wants to
“see”, but he cannot. This is exemplified in the play when Oedipus states that “once more
[he] must bring what is dark to light” (1259). Oedipus wants to overcome his
“blindness” and he pursues this goal throughout the play.
Another ironic example of the theme of blindness is a prophet introduced later in
the play, Teiresias, who is physically blind yet clairvoyant. Teiresias tells Oedipus that he
“cannot see the evil” (1264) and says to him “You mock my blindness do you? But I say
that you, with both your eyes, are blind” (1266). This intensifies the fact that Oedipus is
ignorant to the truth. Teiresias, a blind prophet, can “see” the truth about Oedipus, and
yet Oedipus, with his perfect physical sight, cannot see this truth.
Later in the play, Oedipus realizes the truth about his past. Oedipus can now see
the truth clearly, and yet he still does not want to accept it or “see” it. Therefore, to rid
himself of this truth, Oedipus physically blinds himself, saying “No more shall you look on
the misery about me…too long [you have] been blind to those for whom I was searching”
(1288). This malicious act is Oedipus’ way of escaping from reality.
From the play, one may discover that one of Oedipus’ tragic flaws is his
“blindness” or unwillingness to see the truth. Sophocles uses ironic examples of this
blindness throughout the play to clue the audience in to the main cause of the tragedy in
Oedipus’ life. By using these examples, the writer provides a more subtle insight into the
“blindness” of Oedipus, rather than being blunt about it in the beginning of the play.