Academic College Sample Paper - Sight in Oedipus Rex

Oedipus Rex is a play written by Sophocles in the 5th century, but it is commonly known by the title, ‘Oedipus the King’. One of the popular themes present in the play is Sight and Blindness, which has been metaphorically developed to emphasize on insight. Sight the ability to see or perceive with the physical eye, but in literary terms, the name can also represent knowledge, insight and understanding. Oedipus starts the play as an individual with physical visual ability, which allows him to see and make decisions according to the scenarios observed. His physical sight enables him to engage in various activities, consult with other people and participate in most social activities like most people. Similarly, his physical sight helps him to run away from king Polybus and his wife, in order to escape the oracle’s claim that he would slay his father and sleep with his mother. His physical sight enables him to subdue and kill Laius, when they started an argument on whose chariot was to pass first. In addition, Oedipus manages to successfully take over the throne of Thebes after eliminating the longstanding curse, which was tied to a riddle.

The irony in the physical visual ability in Oedipus is in the fact that he was blinded from realizing the truth. Firstly, his physical sight did not help him recognize that Laius was indeed his father when they met on the way. For all the years he had been living with king Polybus, Oedipus was not aware that they were not his real parents, and only started to suspect after a drunk told him. The physical visual ability, which Oedipus seemed to rely on, did not help him identify his real mother Jocasta, but rather, thinking his mother was in Corinth, he went ahead to marry Jocasta.

Sight is also emphasized in Tiresias’ ability to foresee future events, despite being physically blind. Tiresias’ blindness did not hinder him from understanding Oedipus fate and knowing who killed Laius. He was always correct and accurate in his prophesies, and can therefore be used to represent an inner and metaphorical sight, which was lacking in Oedipus. The metaphorical sight in Tiresias is represented in his insight, wisdom, and knowledge. The play emphasizes more on the metaphorical sight in Tiresias by establishing a great contrast between the character of Oedipus and Tiresias the blind prophet.