The Use of Blindness in Oedipus Rex
Authors often use blindness both metaphorically and literally to describe their characters. In Oedipus Rex, Sophocles begins the play with literally blind Thebans suffering from a plague that their metaphorically blind king has brought upon them. Oedipus, being the king, is trying to help his blind Thebans. In doing this, he blindly curses the murderer of the late King Laius for bringing this plague, not knowing that the murderer is himself. When Sophocles introduces the theme of blindness in Oedipus Rex, the plot gets more complicated as the characters are made aware of their blindness. An important display of blindness is between the literally blind prophet, Teiresias, and the metaphorically blind Oedipus. In scene one, lines 287-449, Teiresias and Oedipus dialogue about the true murderer of Laius as well as the true identity of Oedipus’ parents. In the beginning Oedipus humbly asks the blind prophet to inform himself and the Thebans about the murderer of King Laius. As the conversation goes on, Teiresias makes it known that he knows more about Oedipus than Oedipus knows about himself. Teiresias finally comes out with, “I say that you are the murderer whom you seek” (I. 347). Oedipus then believes that Teiresias is lying and foolish, to which Teiresias says, “Listen to me. You mock my blindness, do you? But I say that you, with both your eyes, are blind: You cannot see the wretchedness of your life, nor whose house you live, no, nor with whom. Who are your father and mother? Can you tell me? You do not know the blind wrongs that you have done them, on earth and in the world below” (I. 398-404). Oedipus, still blind, dismisses this idea and Teiresias without a thought. Creon, Oedipus’ brother-in-law, continues to try to help Oedipus throughout the play. He is the person who advised Oedipus to consult with Teiresias about the murderer of Laius. His only goal is to help Oedipus and the...
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