Blindness In Oedipus Rex

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In Ancient Greek mythology, fate is the focal point of many plays and is significant in establishing the catharsis that Greek tragedies provide for the audience. The playwrights use the catharsis to allude to the general theme that people cannot escape their fate, and using symbolism is an effective way to emphasize the theme. Sophocles, the Ancient Greek playwright of Oedipus Rex, uses the symbolism of blindness to develop the play’s theme and teach the audience a lesson about fate. Sophocles uses blindness to symbolize to ability to see truth and accept fate. Although throughout most of the play Oedipus is not physically blind, he is blind to the fact that his fate has come to fruition. When questioned about the former king of Thebes’ death, Oedipus claims that “[he] never saw the man” (Sophocles 7). However, it is later revealed that Oedipus killed the king and that he was his father, thus fulfilling the prophecy. Oedipus’ sight prevents him from seeing the truth and from accepting his fate. Conversely, Tiresias, who is actually blind, is a prophet and can see truth and understand it. The chorus suggests that Tiresias can tell Oedipus the truth because “he is the man who sees most eye to eye with Lord Apollo” (Sophocles 17). Being blind to the world actually heightens Tiresias’ sensitivity to the truth and allows him to see past the deceptiveness of the world. He can comprehend real adversity, which is a prerequisite to understanding the hard truths in the prophecies.
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