Sight and Blindness in Oedipus the King Essay

1048 WordsJun 23, 20105 Pages
The Irony of Sight and Knowledge in Oedipus the King People equate ‘seeing’ to gaining knowledge. Expressions such as “I see” and “seeing truth” are used to express understanding of something, but is seeing really the same as knowing? In Oedipus the King, Oedipus’s inability to grasp the truth is despite the fact that he is physically able to see contrasts Teiresias’s knowledge of the truth even though he is blind. The irony of the blind man being knowledgeable, and the seer becoming blind to the truth suggests that the idea that knowledge is not related to physical sight. In the beginning of the play, Oedipus is able to see but does not know the truth about who killed Laius. At the conclusion of the play, Oedipus is…show more content…
You can’t hurt me or anyone else who sees the light-you can never touch me.” (10) Here Oedipus is suggesting that Teiresias is inferior to anyone who can see, including himself, and is not a threat to them. Oedipus is wrong because the fact that Oedipus has the advantage of sight over Teiresias is not comparable to the knowledge that Teiresias has. This is yet another example of dramatic irony. It may seem that Oedipus has the advantage over Teiresias because Teiresias is blind, but the knowledge of who Oedipus really is is far more important. A lot of the irony of Oedipus’ blindness also occurs at the end of the play, when Oedipus makes himself physically blind. “…, he digs them down the sockets of his eyes, crying, 'You, you'll see no more the pain I suffered, all the pain I caused! Too long you looked on the ones you never should have seen, blind to the ones you longed to see, to know! Blind from this hour on! Blind in the darkness-blind!'" (46) At this point, Oedipus is confirming a line said early by Teiresius that “to see the truth when the truth is only pain to him who sees!” (6). Oedipus is now in exactly the same position that Teiresius was when he mocked him, physically blind but seeing the truth. Teiresius, the blind prophet, happens to be one of the very few people to know who Oedipus really is and what he has done, however he wishes he did not
Open Document