Essay about Sight and Blindness in Oedipus Rex

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Sight and Blindness in Oedipus Rex

Oedipus Rex is a play about the way we blind ourselves to painful truths that we can’t bear to see. Physical sight and blindness are used throughout the play, often ironically, as a metaphor for mental sight and blindness. The play ends with the hero Oedipus literally blinding himself to avoid seeing the result of his terrible fate. But as the play demonstrates, Oedipus, the man who killed his father and impregnated his mother, has been blind all along, and is partly responsible for his own blindness. When the play opens, the people of the town are asking Oedipus for help. A curse has been cast upon the city and the only way to remove it, is to find the murderer of the last king, Laios.
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It is ironic that the one individual, who comes to help the city, is the individual that has been the cause of the curse. Oedipus is the illness. Oedipus and Jocasta both don’t want to see the truth. Although it may occur to them at some point, but they don’t give it a second thought because they think it is absurd and it isn’t possible. “Why should anyone in this world be afraid, since fate rules us and nothing van be forseen? A man should live only for the present day. Have no more fear of sleeping with your mother: How many men, in dreams, have lain with their mothers! No reasonable man is troubled by such things.” Jocasta is further from believing than Oedipus, she constantly tells him not to worry about it, don’t get worked up, and to just forget what you were told. Oedipus cannot forget what the oracle has said and goes on to pursue the case.
Through the course of the play Oedipus is the detective, the judge, and the jury. He investigates, decides a verdict, and carries out his own punishment. When Tiresias arrives at Thebes Oedipus questions him looking for answers. Tiresias is a blind man, who ironically can see the future and truths of people’s lives. It is Tiresias who is the first person to tell Oedipus that he has killed his own father. He tells Oedipus “you do not see the evil in which you live.” Oedipus doubts Tiresias’ ability to see the truths because of his physical blindness and states, “ You
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