A story of fate versus free will, innocence versus guilt, and truth versus self-denial, Sophocles laces Oedipus the King with suspense through his use of dramatic irony and achieves an excellent tragedy. The drama opens and we meet Oedipus trying to figure out why his land is cursed and his people suffering. His quest to find out who has caused the downfall Thebes ultimately leads to his downfall. We learn of his triumphs as he has saved the people of Thebes by solving the riddle of the Sphinx, and so his character reflects one who has an ability to seek out the truth and also one who has the flaw of hubris. He reacts rashly when confronted by Tiresias and Creon when their revelations threaten his reality. This certainly reflects an …show more content…
Through his pride he mocks Tiresias for not using his “prophetic eyes” to solve the riddle of the Sphinx and save Thebes as he did. Tiresias response proves Oedipus’ lack of sight and knowledge even further:
“you mock my blindness? Let me tell you this.
You with your precious eyes, you’re blind to the corruption of your life to the house you lie in and those you live with—” (469-72)
Tiresias has full knowledge of the truth even without physical sight versus a man who has sight but is unseeing of the truth that is literally in front of him. This adumbrates Oedipus’ fate, as he will also become like Tiresias with knowledge but no physical sight.
Despite many warnings to let things be, Oedipus persists to know the truth especially since it seems to evade him. He is sure he has absconded the claim of patricide and incest by staying away from his “parents;” the same way Jocasta and Laius thought they had speared themselves that fate as well. Now, they both disregard prophesies as truth. Oedipus has been accused of killing his father but word has been brought to him that his father, Polypus, has died in Corinth and he exclaims:
“Jocasta, why, why look to Prophet’s hearth
…to murder my father, did they? That was my doom?
Well look he’s dead and buried, hidden under the earth,
And here I am in Thebes, I never put hand to sword—
…But now all those prophecies I feared—Polybus packs them off to sleep with him in hell!
They’re nothing, worthless.”
“Why, tell me now, how stand your claims to prescience?... To solve her riddle, sooth was needed then, which you could not afford; even from birds...The unlettered Oedipus, and ended her, by sleight of wit, untaught of augury” (15). Again, Oedipus is showing his pride by mocking Tiresias and reminding him that he solved the riddle by being astute. This also leads to his downfall since Oedipus does not realize that Tiresias might be trying to convey something to him. If Oedipus did not insult Tiresias, he might have had another chance to avoid his fate.
The Greek drama “Oedipus The King” evidently leads to the unveiling of a tragedy. Oedipus, the protagonist of the play uncovers his tragic birth story and the curse he had been baring his whole life. Oedipus is notorious for his personal insight that helped him defeat Sphinx, which lead him to becoming the king of Thebes. He is admired by the people of Thebes and is considered to be a mature, inelegant and a rational leader. From his birth, his story began with a prophecy that Oedipus would grow up to kill his father and marry his mother. Through out the play numerous people, who tell him of his unknown past, visit Oedipus. Blind to the truth he casts them away until a blind man named Therisis gives a sight of truth to Oedipus. As Oedipus learns the truth he realizes the great evil his life carries. After finding his wife and also mother hung in her bedroom, Oedipus blinds himself with the gold pins that held Jocasta’s robe. Oedipus blind to the truth is finally able to see when the old blind man visits him and tells him the truth about his life. Both metaphorically and physically sight plays a significant role in understanding the irony of a blind man seeing the truth while Oedipus who isn’t blind doesn’t seem to the truth that’s right in front of him.
Oedipus implies that the blind prophet should have no discernment because he is physically blind, thus Oedipus remains obstinate in his close-minded outlook. Teiresias, can see the truth and Oedipus, ironically, is becoming a blind man. Oedipus wanted to get rid of Teiresias, “so long as you are here, you’ll be a stumbling block and a vexation” (494-495). Closing your eyes to the truth makes it a stumbling block. Oedipus does not have site required to see the truth, his lack of true sight consequently caused ensuing vexation. The irony is that he is making pronouncements to get rid of the stumbling block, not recognizing that he himself is the stumbling block because of his failure to see the truth. Dramatic irony is present when Oedipus pledges to punish and drive Laius’s murderer out of this land, ignorant of his own actions, resulting in eventual self-indictment (160-165). Foreshadowing is evident as he pronounces judgment on himself prophetically, through his pursuit to “drive out [the] pollution from [his] land” (109). Furthermore, Oedipus becomes annoyed at Teiresias’s because he is speaking in riddles (487). When Teiresias stated, “but it is in the riddle answering you are strongest” he is simply voicing the fact that Oedipus is unable to see the truth (488). When we choose to ignore or cover up the truth it becomes a riddle.
Throughout the tragedy by Sophocles, the king Oedipus relies on his personal glory to attain long lasting fame and balks when confronted with anything that might shatter this perception that he is the best. While both characters have done marvelous deeds in the past, their inherent arrogance, which is part of the tragic flaw of each of the characters,
Oedipus intelligence could not see the truth, but the blind man, Teiresias, saw it plainly. Sophocles uses blindness as a theme in the play. Oedipus was uninformed and as a result blind to the truth about himself and his past. Yet, when Teiresias exposes the truth he is in denial. It is left to Oedipus to conquer his blindness, accept the truth, and realize fate. But instead Oedipus ridicules Terirsias blindness and accuses him of being on the side of Kreon and helping him become King. He accuses Teiresias for being paid to tell a fraudulent prophecy to him. Quickly Teiresias answers him back and tells him he is BLIND, and tells him about his past of who his actual mother and father was.
Oedipus seems to believe that he is some sort of god, and that he is omnipotent. He tells the priest, “I see – how could I fail to see what longings bring you here?” (575, 70-71). Towards the beginning of the play, Oedipus is accusing a man, Tiresias, of trying to overthrow him and of killing the old King Laius. Keep in mind – Tiresias is blind himself. Oedipus condemns, “…short of killing him with your own hands – and given eyes I’d say you did the killing single-handed” (583, 396-397). This is just one of the first instances where loss of vision is mentioned. Oedipus is blindly calling him a liar, while he does not even know the truth himself. Oedipus many times claims that Tiresias cannot see something; however, the “things” he cannot see are almost always moral, not physical. It seems as though Oedipus blames Tiresias’ blindness for not being able to understand ethical situations. For example, “…you cannot see how far
Sophocles gives the readers many different views of the play Oedipus the King in which we can take and analysis accordingly to things we are most interested in. Throughout the play Oedipus personally changes. He starts off as a being a smart leader, calm, and determined, but at the end of the play it reveals how he is angry, irrational and is blind to certain aspects, which becomes his downfall.
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
Oedipus is blind, not only in "mind," but also in "ears." He has proven himself to be a man who can listen carefully, but when he becomes angry he cannot hear anyone’s views but his own. His ability to reason, his second great virtue, falls victim to his
Oedipus Rex is a form of literature that teaches life’s simplest lessons that people have trouble accepting today; the truth will always find its way out. Oedipus was just an ordinary man, raised by who he thought were his real parents, was strong and clever, saved the city of Thebes from the Sphinx and became the king. Though Oedipus might’ve seemed like a hero at first, accusations were made against him about the murder of King Lauis and that’s where everything unraveled. No matter how hesitant and neglective he was discovering the truth, it all started making sense to him. Oedipus had no idea he married his own mother and had kids with her as well. However, Jocasta thought she could outsmart the prophecy by sending Oedipus to his death, as a baby, but the messenger and the Shepherd saved him and Oedipus’s destiny had yet to come true. This proves that one cannot stop something from happening, and cannot hide from the truth
Because he had deciphered the Sphinx’s riddle, the intelligent Oedipus was classified as “the best at guessing riddles,” yet he could not see the truth that was staring him in the face (Sophocles 30). He had killed the previous king. Although Tiresias had told him plainly that he was the murderer, Oedipus did not believe him and went even further to blame Creon for the murder. How could he have been so blind? When the king began to finally realize his misconception, he exclaimed, “Oh God! I think I have just called down on myself a dreadful curse-not knowing what I did” (Sophocles 53). The ruler of Thebes enjoyed an abundance of knowledge; however he experienced a severe deficit in his ability to understand the reality right in front of
Sophocles ' play “Oedipus Tyrannus” is an enigma. His play includes incest, murder and self-enlightenment all leading into the main theme of fate. Athenians believed that fate is not left up to man, but that is provided solely on the whims of the gods. Because of his dramatic approach to his plays Sophocles was considered one of the most brilliant and creative writers of his time.
“Oedipus the King” contains many characters with differing characteristics. Some of these characteristics go hand-in-hand with the two main themes in the play.Tiresias and Oedipus in the play “Oedipus the King” are conflicting characters. These two characters illustrate the contrasting the differences of blindness & sight and knowledge & ignorance, and different interpretations of these ideas. The themes blindness & sight and knowledge & ignorance are similar in how they relate to each character.
Body paragraph 1 In the story Oedipus the king, Sophocles use literary motif of blindness and sight to his great advantage. Tiresias is the blind prophet of Thebes. He is well known in Greek mythology. In the play he represents the truth. This truth is continuously rejected by Oedipus. Early in the story Tiresias says “I’m not your servant. No I serve Apollo. So don't even mark me down as Creon’s myrmidon. I'm blind, you say, you mock at
The first quality of Oedipus that justifies him as a tragic hero is in his lack of self-knowledge. Oedipus can be seen has someone who is not genuinely satisfied until he or she solves all of his life’s puzzles and the last riddle of his life. Oedipus physical strength gave him a great opportunity to be the king. This physical strength which he possesses and misuses also marked the beginning of his downfall. In the beginning of the play Oedipus has perfect vision; however, he is blind and ignorant of the truth about himself and his past. As a result; he gains too much pride and confidence and starts to believe he is impalpable. He desperately wants to know, to see, but he can’t. His actions must somehow overcome his blindness. Ironically, into the play a prophet was introduced, a seer, Teresias, who is physically blind, but who is clairvoyant. Teresias says to Oedipus, I tell you, no man that walks upon the earth/ shall be rooted out more horribly than you (S1. .1117). This describes Oedipus as a man ignorant to the true appearance of things, this blind man could see the truth about Oedipus, yet Oedipus in all of his physical strength cannot.