Juxtaposition of Oedipus and Tiresias
In the third passage, from Oedipus the King, Sophocles reveals the importance of self-knowledge to rid of the illusions that fate can be escaped. Tiresias provides insight and truth to an ignorant and proud Oedipus. Oedipus holds the misconception that his worldly knowledge and power over Thebes provides him with enough insight to realize that he has unintentionally fulfilled his fate. Sophocles juxtaposes Oedipus and Tiresias, revealing Oedipus’ hubris and its role in Oedipus’ tragic downfall as foreshadowed by Tiresias. Tiresias is shown as a foil character to Oedipus, revealing Oedipus’ vices. Oedipus believes he is more superior to Tiresias’ prophecies, and Tiresias rebukes saying “, (p)erhaps you are a king, but I reign too-/ in words. I’ll have my equal say. / I’m not your servant. No, I serve Apollo” (lines 1-3). Though Oedipus is the king of Thebes and holds power; Tiresias also holds power through his prophecies and connectedness with the gods. Tiresias also foils to Oedipus as Oedipus serves the people of Thebes, while Tiresias serves Apollo, the god of light. Tiresias is therefore more superior to Oedipus, as he stands for the truth, but Oedipus does not recognize this due to his ignorance of the truth. Through juxtaposition of Oedipus and Tiresias, Oedipus’ character flaws of hubris and ignorance are established. With the use of irony, Sophocles demonstrates the importance of self-knowledge over worldly knowledge by contrasting Oedipus and Tiresias. Oedipus does not believe Tiresias, and accuses him of lying. Tiresias exclaims “, I’m blind you say; you mock at that! / I say you see and still are blind…” (lines 5-6) Ironically, Tiresias is physically blinded, but has insight, and Oedipus has physical sight, but lacks any knowledge of himself. Oedipus remaining ignorant to the truth and ignorant to Tiresias’ warnings establishes dramatic irony, and creates tension as Oedipus’ flaw of hubris is revealed. Oedipus...
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