Tiresias, a soothsayer, is able to see the destiny and destruction of Oedipus' life. Tiresias uses his knowledge to uncover Oedipus' downfalls, which demonstrates his arrogance when attempting to learn the truth. “ You have mocked at my blindness, but you, who have eyes, cannot see the evil in which you stand”( Sophocles 25). Oedipus' eyes are fully functional, however, he is “blind to the horrors of his own life. Tiresias tells Oedipus his destiny, yet Oedipus lacks the foresight to understand the truth. Oedipus accuses Tiresias, “You have no power or truth. You are blind, your ears and mind as well as your eyes”(Sophocles 23). Oedipus has the ability “see” however, he does not choose to listen to any truth that is spoken by Tiresias, which proves Oedipus' arrogance. Tiresias is the only person who can actually “see” and understand the truth about Oedipus. Oedipus is shocked and does not bother with what Tiresias has to say. “[He] won't listen to this sort of talk from [Tiresias]”(Sophocles 25). Oedipus does not believe what is spoken to him and thinks it is rather meaningless. Tiresias, the blind prophet, understands fully what he is saying whereas, Oedipus, the one who can actually “see”, does not try to put in any effort in understanding the truth.
Blindness, in this play, takes part in many ironic situations that foreshadows Oedipus fate. “ I am what I am—a fool to you, so it seems, but the parents who brought you into the world [teaches] me sensible enough” (Sophocles 26). Tiresias is sent by Oedipus to gain further information about the murderer of Lauis. Oedipus however, does not believe anything he is hearing from Tiresias because he is blinded by everything that surrounds him. Ironically, Tiresias is blind but he is revealing the truth to someone who can actually see. “You live your life in one continuous night of darkness. Neither I nor any other man who can see would do you any harm”(Sophocles 23). This quote foreshadows the devastation that will occur with Oedipus because of his blindness. Although Oedipus has full sight, he is blind of his fate. It is very ironic that a blind man has the ability to see the suffering that will play out in Oedipus future .“The man who sees most eye to eye with Lord Apollo is Tiresias and from him one might learn the truth for which you are searching” (Sophocles 17). Ironically, the people around Oedipus know him better than he even knows himself. When the people around Oedipus start understand that Tiresias is the “Man who sees eye to eye with Lord Apollo” (Sophocles 17).The only thing Oedipus can do is stop being ignorant while trying to understand the truth and his fate.
The realization that becoming blind by the truth could only last so long before Oedipus finally figures out the truth of his past. “ I [think] I [hear] you say that Lauis [is] killed at a place where three highways meet” (Sophocles 42). This is the beginning of Oedipus' realization from Jocasta that everything Tiresias says might actually be true. The blindness that blocks Oedipus all this time is slowly starting to peel off. “I am dreadfully afraid the blind prophet could see. But tell me one more thing that will throw light on this.” (Sophocles 43) Oedipus, who is once blinded from the truth admits to everyone around him that the “blind prophet could see.”( Sophocles 43) This really gives the reader an idea of how long Oedipus' ignorance really goes on for. Near the end of the play, however, light really shines.
“ O God! It has all come true. Light, let this be the last time I see you. I stand revealed—born in shame, marries in shame, an unnatural murderer” (Sophocles 69). Nothing has ever been more clear to Oedipus, than the realization that everything Tiresias tells Oedipus comes true. Once again, it is the blind prophet who is able to see right through Oedipus, and it is Oedipus who could no longer deny the truth that he is the one to murder his father and marry his mother, and in weakness Oedipus blinds himself by gashing his eyes out.
One who is physically blind, will be blind for the rest of ones life. If one is blinded by the truth, however there is nothing that a person can do until the truth is found. When a person does learn the truth, one might choose to feel ignorant. For Oedipus, physical blindness, the foreshadowing of his fate and the realization of blindness can only last for so long. In this play, blindness leads to the truth, and the truth leads to blindness. Is it possible to avoid the truth or does ignorance get in the way of ones ability to “see”?
Sophocles , .Oedipus the King. New York: Pocket Books , 2005. 114. Print