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Oedipus' Blindness: A Burden To The Body And Mind

Essay by   •  May 12, 2011  •  627 Words (3 Pages)  •  1,274 Views

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Blindness is a condition which has plagued mankind since the beginning of time. The loss of sight can have devastating effects on a persons life, both physically and mentally. Blindness is often always associated with having no eye-sight, but in the play Oedipus Rex , it can also be a symbol of ignorance. Oedipus, his wife Jocasta and Tiresias are all victims of blindness which affects their lives.

Oedipus is the child of prophecy, burdened by the scars he bears on his ankles and plagued by the gods. Oedipus is indeed the tragic hero of this play, and his blindness brings about his downfall. At birth, Oedipus' parents were handed a prophecy that he would grow up to kill his father and marry his mother. His parents, Laius and Jocasta instead sent him to the mountains to die in order to avoid this prophecy. Despite their efforts, a shepherd came across Oedipus and brought him to King Polybus and Queen Merope. When Oedipus learned about this prophecy, he fled. On his flight, he encountered Laius, who he killed without recognizing him. He arrived at Thebes and solved the riddle of the Sphinx, freeing the city. The Thebans crowned him King and he married Jocasta, fulfilling the prophecy without knowing he had. A plague was brought upon Thebes and Oedipus called upon Tiresias for an answer. Tiresias informed Oedipus that he was the cause of all of Thebes' problems, causing Oedipus to dismiss Tiresias' claims. Oedipus searched and searched for an answeruntil he finally discovered that he is truly the cause of the plague and he fulfilled his prophecy. In his distress, he ran pins into his eyes, blinding himself.

Oedipus' blindness was both figurative and literal. He was oblivious to the fact that he was the cause of Thebes' problems, he married his mother, killed his father and he was oblivious to the fact that he had fulfilled his prophecy. In one instance with Tiresias, Oedipus is so adamant that he is right, he discredits Tiresias, prompting him to expose Oedipus' figurative blindness to the people of Thebes and to the reader, "I say without knowing it, you are living in shameful intimacy with your nearest and dearest. You do not see the

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