Oedipus the King is a tragic play, written by Sophocles that develops the important theme of blindness, through King Oedipus’ personal story. It takes place in an ancient Greek city called Thebes, and begins with a king named Oedipus who has just taken over. The previous king, Laius, was murdered just prior to Oedipus’ arrival. He is married to the widowed queen of Thebes, Jocasta, and rules for some time before disaster hits the city. Oedipus soon learns he must find Laius’ murderer if he is to save Thebes, but this proves to be a much more difficult task than expected. He finds he must dig deeper into his mysterious past to find the answers he desires. In the play Oedipus the King, Sophocles uses the theme of blindness through Oedipus’ lack of knowledge of his past, the warnings of the blind prophet, Jocasta’s denial of the truth, and Oedipus’ physically making himself blind, to prove that revealing the truth does not outweigh the pain of self-discovery.
The darkness that covers Oedipus’ past makes him unable to let go of it, and causes him to delve deeper into what the gods had never intended for him to discover. Oedipus and the little he knows about his past brings out irony very often in the play. At the beginning when the murder of Laius is being discussed Oedipus says, “I never saw the man myself” (121). This statement is a symbol of blindness through the irony it contains. Oedipus was not only the murderer of Laius he is also his son, and therefore directly oblivious to the fact that he has seen Laius a number of times. This ironic blindness is also apparent when Oedipus declares, “I order you, every citizen of the state…banish this man, whoever he may be” (269-270). Here, he is banishing the murderer of Laius, which means he is banishing himself. This deadly order is only preparing Oedipus’ fate for horror and pain. In this case, Sophocles seems as if he is trying to prove that it would be better for Oedipus to never...
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