Sight and Blindness in Oedipus Rex

Topics: Knowledge, Truth, Oedipus the King Pages: 3 (1147 words) Published: November 17, 2009
In literature, blindness serves a general significant meaning of the absence of knowledge and insight. It serves this same purpose in Sophocles' classic tragedy, Oedipus Rex. In this piece, blindness manifests itself in three ways: intellectual blindness, which is the refusal or inability to accept knowledge; physical blindness, which is being without the physical sense of sight; and metaphorical blindness, which is what blindness symbolizes or means for each character affected by it. In all aspects blindness is destructive. We feel that in Oedipus Rex, blindness separates the knowledgeable, those who see the whole situation and in return are not punished, and the tragic figures, those who can't see or won't see and suffer the consequences in return. Physical blindness in the play serves a contrasting meaning. In life, physical blindness usually represents an inability or handicap, and those people afflicted with it are pitied. But in this case, physical blindness is somewhat of an asset. It eliminates the distractions of the outside world and allows the characters to gain insight or focus on what they receive from the gods. Also in Oedipus Rex, blindness serves as a punishment for rebelling against the gods. One other thing we notice about the physically blind characters in Oedipus Rex is that they live in isolation from the rest of the community, which is also common in actual life outside the play. The seer throughout the piece and Oedipus living out his punishment represents physical blindness in the play. The seer is physically blind and is the character we feel most benefits from it, because he is the one chosen by Apollo to relay his message to the people of the earth. The seer already knows all because Apollo reveals it to him. Therefore, although he is blind he still is knowledgeable and sees all things. In the play, Choragus states, "This is Teiresias, this is the holy prophet in whom, alone of all men, truth was born" (Scene 1, line 82). Another quote...
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