What is an "illuminating" moment in Oedipus Rex that functions as an opening to the play as a whole?

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An illuminating moment is the moment in a play when a lead character makes a critical discovery about themselves, about another character, or about their situation.

In an ancient Greek play like Oedipus Rex, written by Sophocles and first performed in 429 BCE, the illuminating moment corresponds to the ...

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An illuminating moment is the moment in a play when a lead character makes a critical discovery about themselves, about another character, or about their situation.

In an ancient Greek play like Oedipus Rex, written by Sophocles and first performed in 429 BCE, the illuminating moment corresponds to the anagnorisis—the moment when the tragic hero makes a critical discovery about themselves—which precipitates the peripeteia, or the tragic hero's reversal of fortune.

The illuminating moment in Oedipus Rex involves all three elements of discovery. Oedipus discovers the truth about himself, the truth about Jocasta—his wife and mother—and the truth about the murder of Laius, his father and the former king of Thebes.

The illuminating moment for Oedipus isn't the moment when Oedipus's starts to realize his role in Laius's death, but the moment when Oedipus accepts his role in his Laius's death.

It's the same moment that Oedipus accepts that Jocasta is his mother, that Laius was his father, and that Oedipus killed his father and married his mother. This is also the moment that Oedipus accepts responsibility for the devastating famine and plague affecting the people of Thebes.

The illuminating moment for Oedipus comes at the moment just before he gouges out his own eyes. Until that moment, Oedipus steadfastly refuses to believe that he's responsible in any way for Laius's death. He refuses to believe Teiresias, the messenger from Corinth, or the old shepherd. He refuses to believe anything he's told until the evidence overwhelmingly shows that he killed Laius, that Jocasta is his mother, and that Laius was his father.

It's incredibly ironic that Oedipus blinds himself at the illuminating moment. Up to that point in the play, Oedipus has been figuratively blind to the truth, but once the truth is revealed, he blinds himself so he can't see or enjoy his children, the sights of the city, or any of the gifts and rewards that he wrongly received.

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