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

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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 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 deep irony 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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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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