Oedipus the King by SopohoclesWorks Cited Not IncludedThroughout the play, Oedipus the King, Sophocles refers to site and blindness to relate attitudes and knowledge of the past. The irony of sight in this play can be marked by Oedipus’ inability to realize that which is evident to the reader. His extreme pride is his tragic flaw. It blinds him from the truth.
Oedipus blinding himself symbolizes his increase of knowledge, his sensitivity, and gives him the ability to finally “see”. He is now able to see the flaws of his hubris attitude, and the consequences of which his pride brought to him. From the very beginning, Oedipus was blinded by pride. With the city of Thebes dying, Creon comes from the god Apollo to tell how to stop the plaque. An example of Oedipus’ hubris is shown when he will not go into the palace to converse with Creon. He insists on talking in front of the crowd of citizens.
Creon tells that the only way to stop the plaque is to find the killer of Lauis, the previous king. King Oedipus takes this task lightly, for he is the one who solved the riddle of the Sphinx, he surely could find the killer of royalty. This is another example of his tragic flaws, pride. When Oedipus vows to do everything in his power to find Laius’ killer, the leader of the chorus advises Oedipus that no one knows the identity of the murderer, and that the god Apollo should name him to the people.
Oedipus replies “to force the gods to act against their will- no man has the power.”(320) He has called on the blind seer who knows what the god Apollo sees. It is ironic that Tiresias can “see” what Oedipus can not though he suffers of old age and physical blindness. Tiresias, who is able to see the truth of the downfall of Oedipus thorough the oracle’s prophecy even in his own blindness, becomes the comparative image from which Oedipus is judged, both by himself and by others. Throughout the conversation between Oedipus and Tiresias, he will not divulge the information King Oedipus is longing to hear. “I’d rather not cause pain to you or me. So why this…useless interrogation?
You’ll get nothing from me” (321) Tiresias says. This enrages Oedipus and he blames him for the murder, and then for conspiring with Creon to take his throne. These accusations Oedipus makes are caused by his fear of the truth he is too blind to see. This blame causes an argument…
…dentity from this man, that he even speaks of torture to get him to talk.
From the way the man speaks to the other shepherd, “Damn you, shut your mouth—quite!” (346) You can tell that Oedipus is not going to like what this messenger has to say. He to owns the knowledge that is blinding Oedipus. But he will soon know and the knowledge of himself will set him free, and he will be able to understand his faults. When Oedipus finally realizes that the prophecy that he would kill his father and marry his mother had came true, he was over come with shame. He goes to Jocasta’s quarters, where she had taken her own life, and gouged out his eyes with the broach that she wore. In the end, Oedipus gains insight into his life, his failings, and the nature of the gods and fate only through his own blindness, only through accepting the truth of his lack of vision, and his inability to impact fate. Oedipus gains a compassionate, though tragic outlook because of his capacity to envision that which he could never see while he had his physical sight. Through his blindness, Oedipus is finally allowed the ability to see himself, and this is the irony of sight in Sophocles’ play Oedipus the King.