Oedipus Rex Critical Lens

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In Oedipus Rex, Sophocles displays a tragedy in which a righteous man is plagued by his hubris, leading to his inevitable downfall. To cleanse himself from his torment, Oedipus is left with no other choice than to painfully rip out the sinful eyes that deceived him. The act of Oedipus gouging out his eyes reveals Sophocles’ didactic purpose: one's physical eyes can be blind towards the truth.
When a vicious plague hits Thebes, Oedipus begins to display signs of pride blinding him from the right course of action. During the King’s aggressive interrogation of Teiresias, the blind seer warns, “I do not intend to torture myself or you”(p.18). Oedipus ignores the elder man’s plea and instead verbally attacks him, accusing him of being a, “decrepit
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To release himself of his prideful ways, Oedipus took it upon himself to discard the eyes that failed to see the truth. To amend the situation he, “raised [the ornament] down straight into his eyeballs.” University of Pennsylvania Professor, Peter T. Struck, established a literary commentary in which he wrote, “by blinding himself, as opposed to committing suicide, Oedipus achieves a kind of surrogate death that intensifies his suffering.” Struck agrees that by committing this self-inflicted retribution, Oedipus is redeeming himself for his sins in a way that death would not allow him to do. Now that Oedipus is finally able to see the truth, he recognizes his mistakes and exclaims, “I don’t deserve to live among you…send me from Thebes”(p.80). He is taking responsibility for his actions and will endure this punishment to redeem himself. Struck states, ”Oedipus is dead, for he receives none of the benefits of the living; at the same time, he is not dead by definition and so his suffering cannot end.” Struck writes this to emphasize how Oedipus’ departure is a fitting punishment for his crimes. Through his self-exile, Oedipus reinforces Sophocles’ didactic purpose: our physical eyes can be blind towards the
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