‘Blind’ The King

Fascinated by essay question four, the use of the word blind, metaphorically and literally caught my attention as throughout the play Oedipus’s ignorance towards the situation describes his metaphorical blindness as he continuously attempts to solve the riddle of who killed his father.

As the questions asks how blindness can connect to knowledge, ignorance and punishment, it can be seen that these three situations gradually evolve as the play develops but eventually the ending point was Oedipus’s ultimate punishment of literal blindness as he gouges his eyes out as he is exposed to the knowledge of truth explained through the riddle.

Throughout the play, emphasis on the words such as ‘vision’, ‘see’ and ‘sight’ further develops the pursuit of knowledge which highlights the terms such as ‘truth’, ‘oracle’ and ‘prophecy’ as Oedipus himself represents all these ideas. This idea of blindness is further emphasised when Teiresias is introduced into the play. As he is literally blind, his ability to see through Oedipus’s past, present and future shows the great extent to which fate is presented. Despite this, Oedipus, not blind but metaphorically blind is unaware of his fate that the gods have place upon his own will. Oedipus’s ignorance towards this matter made him more famous as his eager insight solving the riddle of the Sphinx can be considered ironic. This can be explained through the quote on page 44, line 637-638 the quote by Teiresias says “go inside and ponder that riddle, and if you find I’ve lied, then call me a prophet who cannot see”. The quote ultimately places Oedipus at Teiresias’s position as he becomes the prophet as well as mentally embodying the role of him.

When finally faced with the truth of his life, Sophocles rounds together the metaphorical aspect of blindness through the gouging of the eyes out as stated above. This not only is emphasised in the sense that Oedipus can no longer view his horrors his actions have created. Eventually, Oedipus becomes what he had always been, which is metaphorically ‘blind’, but ultimately embraces the symbol of all humanity where nothing is explicitly determined.

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