Blindness In Oedipus Rex Essay

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Whereas Oedipus is ignorant of the truth which stands in front of him, and refuses to listen to the advice of the blind Tiresias, Jocasta has reason to be metaphorically blind to the truth; she gave her son away to die as a child, therefore her lack of vision stems from reason as opposed to arrogance or ignorance.

Though she is careless in not ensuring that the child was killed by witnessing it herself, she can be forgiven for making the assumption, as there was no reason for her to think otherwise.

Alternatively, if Oedipus had been aware of the full truth from the beginning he could have potentially avoided his fate.

His arrogance is further displayed when he declares that he will find the Kings killer so he can save the town from the plague, unaware that he himself is the killer.

In response to this mocking, Tiresias states, “You mock my blindness do you? You dont even know the blind wrongs that you have done them, on earth and in the world below”, and “Out of this land someday, with only night upon your precious eyes.” It is here we can see that ‘true’ sight is a symbol for knowledge, when Oedipus finally sees the truth of his past, he then immediately chooses to blind himself, perhaps as a symbol for the ignorance he once had.

But I say that you with both your eyes are blind: You cannot see the wretchedness of your life, nor in whose house you live, no, nor with whom. It is here that he truly does control his own destiny as it is his decision to blind himself, though this action remains the only thing Oedipus was able to control regarding his fate. She knew about the prophecy, but was sure that her only son was long dead.

Or was it his arrogance that made him so blind to the truth?

Either way, it seems that intellectual blindness is a far worse infliction than physical blindness, made even worse by arrogance, as Oedipus Rex highlights.

In a desperate attempt to avoid this terrible fate, his parents send him into the mountains to die.

However, a shepherd saves Oedipus and the child is adopted by Polybus and Merope, the King and Queen of Corinth.


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