One of the main plays written by the Athenian playwright and poet Sophocles is the tragedy “Oedipus the King.” Oedipus is one of the main characters of the Theban mythological cycle, the action of which is connected with the city of Thebes. The story of Oedipus is complex, even confusing, as he eventually realizes his guilt and punishes himself for it.
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The theme of blindness in Sophocles’ play Oedipus The King is one of the key themes. People can be physically blind, they do not see what surrounds them, or they can have a physical vision but be “blind” to reality and truth. Sophocles uses this theme to make Oedipus “blind” throughout the play by refusing to see that the prophecy has come true. Simultaneously, the physical blindness of the minor character Tiresias allows him to finally “see” the truth.
At the beginning of the play, a prophecy is described that knowingly condemns Oedipus’s life to a tragic outcome. This prophecy says that Oedipus will kill his father, become king, and marry his mother. Lai and Jocasta are frightened by the prophecy and decide to send their son on a dangerous journey to the mountains, where he will die, thus, the prophecy will not come true. Oedipus survives and is adopted by Polybus and Merope, whom he considers his true parents. Later, Oedipus learns about the prophecy and escapes from them, meeting an older man on the way. He does not know that this older man is his birth father, Lai, and kills him and his three servants. Oedipus becomes king of Thebes and marries to eventually realize that his wife is his own mother. Thus comes true the prophecy foretold by Tiresias and from which Oedipus longed to escape.
After a while, the plague begins to rage in Thebes; Oedipus consults Tiresias, who is a blind prophet. He claims that all the troubles in Thebes are due to the one who killed Laius. The blindness of Oedipus manifests itself at the moment when he refuses to accept this truth. When he does realize that this was the absolute truth, and he was blind to it, he pokes out his eyes and becomes physically blind.
Furthermore, Oedipus begins to learn the truth and recognize when he considers Polybus and Merope to be his birth parents. It doesn’t matter if he knew his true parents or not. He did not seek to recognize the truth because he is “blind.” He acknowledges his “blindness”, his inner feeling begins to change, and with a bad feeling he recognizes that he is a polluter.
Moreover, as an example, can be used the “blindness” of Jocasta, who knew about the prophecy of Oedipus, but she is sure that he is dead. Realizing that her husband is her own son, she decides to ignore it, which manifests her “blindness”, she does not want Oedipus to know the truth, asking him: “… I beg you. Don’t do this.” (1210) After learning that the prophecy has come true, she decides to kill herself. This example of recognizing the truth and the subsequent tragic fate is similar to the example of Oedipus.
In conclusion, the theme of physical blindness and blindness to the truth is seen in this play. Oedipus does not see the truth, he does not know who his true parents are, kills his father, and marries his mother. Having found this truth, he puts out his eyes and becomes physically blind. Jocasta, his mother and wife, knows the truth but tries to “blind” herself to it, which eventually leads her to suicide. On the one hand, Tiresias is physically blind, but the truth is revealed to him, which is the paradox of blindness. Therefore, it is not necessary to be physically sighted in order to see the truth.
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