Oedipus Rex (Sophocles) - Book Report/Review Example

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On discovering that he has committed these horrible crimes he blinds himself. In this play blindness is central to the theme and used as a…
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Oedipus Rex (Sophocles)
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Oedipus Rex Order No.318604 September’09 Oedipus Rex Oedipus Rex, a play by Sophocles, tells the tragic story of how Oedipus discovers that he has killed his father and married his mother. On discovering that he has committed these horrible crimes he blinds himself. In this play blindness is central to the theme and used as a metaphorical element. Sophocles uses blindness as a symbol for truth. Both the characters Teiresias who is a blind prophet and Oedipus after he is blind seem to see the truth most clearly in spite of their blindness. Oedipus was famous for clear-sightedness but discovers that he had been blind to some truths for many years. He was intelligent and was able to answer the Sphinx’s riddle. But he was unable to detect the truths of his life. He was blind to the facts of his origin. He refused to believe and see the truth and follow the advice of others who knew what was happening. He was blinded by arrogance. Here blindness is not about physical blindness. It stands for not being able to see beyond what appears before our eyes and being blind to our wrongs. Oedipus fails to see the wrongs he has done. Here Teiresias tells Oedipus "You cannot see the wretchedness of your own life,…You do not even know the blind wrongs that you have done to them [Laios and Iocaste], on earth and the world below". Even after Teiresias warnings Oedipus refuses to see the truth. He turns a blind eye to the truth. On the other hand Teiresias is blind, yet he is able to see farther than others and prophesizes that Oedipus would become blind. Tieresias demonstrates the power of insight.
Oedipus on learning the truth blinds himself thereby making the numerous prophecies come true. He blinds himself as he wants darkness and return to the dark world he lived in before. The dark world here is a metaphor for ignorance. He wants to go back to the world where he was unable to see the truth and also the misery he had caused.
Blindness in the play stands not for physical blindness but stands for intellectual blindness, lack of insight and inability to see the truth. Oedipus is blind even when he can see whereas Teiresias can see even when he is blind.
All this makes us wonder whether Oedipus is guilty. Some critics are of the opinion that he was not guilty as he was not aware of the facts and that it was prophesized that he would commit these crimes. But the fact is that he does commit these crimes and this is enough to prove that he is guilty.

1. Sophocles, "Oedipus Rex." Literature: An Introduction to Fiction, Poetry, and Drama.
7th ed. Eds. X. J. Kennedy and Dana Gioia, New York, Longman, 1998. 1254-94 Read More
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