The Portrayal of Blindness in The Outsider and Oedipus the King

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The Portrayal of Blindness in The Outsider and Oedipus the King

A primitive motif in Oedipus the King by Sophocles and The Outsider by
Albert Camus is blindness. The protagonists in the novels are blinded to a personal truth, and are physically blinded as well. In The
Outsider, Meursault’s blindness is metaphorical, as he is negligent to his own absurdity, which he later becomes categorized as. On the other hand, Oedipus’s blindness is literal, as he is ignorant to the truth of his life; and the fact that he is incapable of escaping the destiny that the Gods have set out for him, which resulted in him gorging his eyes out. The characters suffer an emotional and physical blindness, which leads to tragic irony in Oedipus the King
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Salamano himself is not incomparable to his dog as he has “ended up looking like his dog with reddish scabs on his face and his hair is thin and yellow” (p.30).
Salamano mistreats his dog and swears at it until it cringes in fear, to the point where they both “stop on the pavement and stare at each other, the dog in terror, the man in hatred” (pg.31).

Ironically, Meursault is blind and disregardful towards their desolate world and never comments on how miserable and unfeeling their situation is. Akin to Meursault, Oedipus is also blind towards accepting and understanding his life, and where he originated from.
Astonishingly, given that Oedipus is given many hints that could lead him towards understanding his life, he still fails to detect them.
The most distinct ironies in the two novels come from the blind prophet, as he is literally blind and yet he understands a great deal more than Oedipus, who was not physically blind at the time. Teiresias points this out to Oedipus very bluntly by saying “ you have taunted me with blindness, you have your sight yet you cannot see where, nor with whom, you live, nor in what horror (411-413).” In The
Outsider, the blinding light is constantly portrayed, and the main purpose of this would have been to highlight Meursault’s mental blindness. The light is usually brought about in the parts of
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