Oedipus the King and Inner Vision

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Theme of Blindness and Sight in Oedipus the King:

• Also Darkness and Light.
• Irony – the blind man can see the truth (inner vision); the sighted man can see nothing but believes he knows (Oedipus is really blind). • Main pt: Oedipus can see but is really blind. Tiresias can’t see but has inner vision (gift from the Gods). • Blindness and Sight (physically and reality).

• The old man is physically blind but he has inner vision, the gift of Apollo. • By the end of the play the Kings fortunes are reversed and the truth “bursts to light”. • One of the most important motifs (dominating theme) in Sophocles: blindness. • Ex. of this not just in Oedipus the King but also in other plays ex. Ajax. • Recurring theme in Sophocles – the feeling that human sight and insight are limited when compared to the sight and insight of the gods. (Oedipus thinks he “sees the light…but really it is only the gods who see the light. He thinks he knows more than Tiresias who is speaking on behalf of the Gods). • Through confrontation/contrast between Tiresias and Oedipus the theme is expressed.

2 famous episodes:
1. Confrontation between Oedipus and Tiresias.
2. Self- blinding.

1. Confrontation between Oedipus and Tiresias:
• Chorus introduces possibility of consulting Tiresias:
• “I know that the vision of our lord Tiresias is most like that of Lord Apollo.” • Although blind Tiresias has insight greater than that of a man. • As the priest says:
• “You cannot equal the gods…but we do rate you first of men.” • Oedipus is sighted as men are; yet he lacks insight into the truth about himself and his world, as all mortals are likely to lack such insight. • Tiresias: “I tell you, you and your loved ones live together, in infamy, you cannot see how far you’ve gone in guilt.” • Mutual accusations draw heavily on the image of blindness: • Oedipus: “You’ve lost your power, stone-blind, stone – deaf, senses, eyes as blind as stone.” • Tiresias: “ I pity you,...
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