For what reasons does Oedipus blind himself in Oedipus Rex? What meaning, if any, do you find in his choice of a surgical instrument?

Oedipus blinds himself in Oedipus Rex because, in his own words, "No more shall ye behold such sights of woe, / Deeds I have suffered and myself have wrought." Oedipus gouges out his eyes with the gold brooches of his wife and mother, Jocasta. The brooches are symbols of Jocasta as Oedipus's wife and queen, as well as Jocasta as wife and queen to his father, Laius.

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Towards the end of Sophocles's Oedipus Rex, a messenger from Corinth arrives at Oedipus's palace to give Oedipus news that King Polybus of Corinth, whom Oedipus believes is his real father, has died.

The messenger also reveals that King Polybus and his queen, Merope, are Oedipus's adoptive parents, not his real parents, and Oedipus orders that a shepherd who has knowledge of this be brought before him.

Oedipus's queen, Jocasta, tries to dissuade Oedipus from talking with the shepherd. When Oedipus insists on seeing the shepherd, Jocasta goes into the palace, with an ominous remark to Oedipus that foreshadows events that will play out very soon.

JOCASTA. [to Oedipus] O woe is thee, poor wretch! With that last word
I leave thee, henceforth silent evermore.

Oedipus learns from the shepherd that Polybus and Merope were, indeed, his adoptive parents. He also learns that his real parents are Laius, the former king of Thebes whom Oedipus killed on the road to Thebes, and Laius's queen, Jocasta, his own queen, and, as he's discovered, also his own mother.

Oedipus rushes away into the palace.

After a short choral interlude, a messenger comes from the palace to say that Jocasta has hanged herself. The messenger also tells how Oedipus forced his way into the room where Jocasta died.

MESSENGER. He crashed against
The folding doors, and from their staples forced
The wrenched bolts and hurled himself within.
...But when he saw her, with a maddened roar
He loosed the cord; and when her wretched corpse
Lay stretched on earth, what followed—O 'twas dread!
He tore the golden brooches that upheld
Her queenly robes, upraised them high and smote
Full on his eye-balls...

The brooches that fastened Jocasta's "queenly robes" can be said to symbolize her position as queen, both to her current husband, Oedipus, and to her former husband and Oedipus's father, Laius.

The messenger says that Oedipus cried out, "No more shall ye behold such sights of woe, / Deeds I have suffered and myself have wrought!" and that Oedipus continued to stab at his eyes with Jocasta's brooches.

MESSENGER. Not once but oft, he struck with his hand uplift
His eyes...

Oedipus comes from the palace, his eyes bleeding from the self-inflicted wounds. The leader of the chorus asks Oedipus why he did this, and Oedipus replies that Apollo—meaning fate and the will of the gods—is responsible for everything that has happened to him but that he is the instrument of his own tragic downfall.

LEADER. O doer of dread deeds, how couldst thou mar
Thy vision thus? What demon goaded thee?

OEDIPUS. Apollo, friend, Apollo, he it was
That brought these ills to pass;
But the right hand that dealt the blow
Was mine, none other.

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For what reason does Oedipus blind himself? What meaning, if any, do you find in his choice of surgical instrument?

In this Athenian tragedy by Sophocles, Oedipus chooses to blind himself after it is revealed that he has, as foretold by a prophecy, killed his father and slept with his mother. Oedipus cannot bare the shame and horror of what he has done, and when he finds that his mother has killed herself...

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from shame, he chooses to blind his eyes by piercing them with two of her brooches. Oedipus does not choose to fully relieve himself of his suffering by ending his life. Rather, he tortures himself by piercing his eyes and enduring the rest of his life in shame and blindness. Even with the knowledge of the prophecy, Oedipus is figuratively blinded by his actions, and so it is with deepirony that he then physically blinds himself when the prophecy is fulfilled. The use of the brooches to blind Oedipus are, of course, significant because they belonged to his mother and therefore are connected to the prophecy that ultimately led to his blinding.

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For what reason does Oedipus blind himself? What meaning, if any, do you find in his choice of surgical instrument?

In Oedipus Rex by Sophocles, Oedipus is overcome by guilt and shame when he learns that he has offended the gods. Although his fate was prophesied and he took steps to avoid the actions foretold, he cannot help but feel responsible.

After his mother, Jocasta, admits her role in trying to stop the Oracle's prediction from coming true, Jocasta takes her own life.

Oedipus does not kill himself, however. He feels he must continue to suffer but cannot bear to see the world of pain in which he will survive.

His choice of weapon is highly significant. First, the two brooches he grabs belong to his mother, and thus are appropriate weapons, because his sin was committed with her. In addition, there are two pins, so he can put out both eyes simultaneously and not risk changing his mind after gouging the first eye.

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