There is a good deal in the play about seeing and blindness. What purpose does this serve?

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readerofbooks | College Teacher | (Level 2) Educator Emeritus

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This is a great question. The theme of seeing and blindness is all over the tragedy. Let me sketch this theme a bit.

In the beginning of the tragedy, we can say that Oedipus is pretty sure of himself. For example, he solved the riddle of the Sphinx and he is now convinced that he could fix the problem of the plague of Thebes. From this point of view, we can say that Oedipus is filled with pride or hubris. This, in turn, blinds him.

As the story progresses, it is becoming increasingly clear to all that the curse of the land is due to Oedipus. He is the one who killed his father and married his mother. Jocasta, is wife/mother sees this all to clearly and so she takes her life. the chorus sees this. The blind Tiresias see this as well. The only one that does not see this is Oedipus. We can say that he is blind.

What make this blindness even more pointed is that there is a juxtaposition with a blind seer, Tiresias. Through this, Sophocles is able to show the blindness of Oedipus by contrasting him to the insight of the blind seer.

At the end of the tragedy, Oedipus finally sees, but the irony is that he is now physically blind.


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