Discuss the theme of sight and blindness in Oedipus the King. What's the importance in the text?
How does it affect "truth" and the idea of perceived truth?
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One way to approach answering this question is to look at Oedipus and Tiresias, the blind prophet. Although Oedipus, who has the physical ability to see, believes that he can discover the truth about the identity of King Laios' murderer, he is blind to the fact that he himself is guilty. He is also unaware that he has indeed fulfilled another part of the prophecy he tried to escape: married his mother.
Tiresias, on the other hand, is physically blind, but he has the ability to "see" metaphorically; he can make predictions. He also knows the truth about Oedipus' identity, but the old seer doesn't want to reveal this painful reality.
When Oedipus discovers the awful truths, he gouges out his eyes, thus physically blinding himself to the reality around him; he cannot bear to look at the children he has sired, knowing they are his half-siblings.
The play is full of references to sight and blindness, to light and dark imagery. All of these reinforce Sophocles' ideas about truth being a matter of perception.
It is significant becayse Oedipus mocks and insults the blind man (Tiresias) for being blind. Oedipus doubts Tiresias' ability to tell the truth of who the murder of Laius is because he is blind and would not have been able to see it happen. Tiresaias' may be physically binld but it is Oedipus who is truely blind because he does not recognize the truth where as a without sight does.
It is also ironic how the blind make knows the truth while oedipus does not.
When Oedipus does become blind by taking his eyes out, that is when he can see the truth.
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