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Blinding Brooches Essay

1376 words - 6 pages

The brooches in Oedipus Rex are used to inform the theme of fate. Its purpose is to separate the main character, Oedipus, from blindness in the physical world and seeing the truth in the psychological world. Up until he uses the brooches as his blinding mechanism, Oedipus’s perception of his life is false. His life story appears to be a fortunate and prosperous one as King of Thebes and he never recognizes the unavoidable events as his given prophecy. Even with the ability to see, he fails to trust in the gods and instead has false consciousness in his intuitions. As in Oedipus, Iokaste also exults over the failure of the oracles when in fact they prove right. The dramatic irony is prevalent every time a character tries to avert a future prediction; the audience knows the attempt is futile. With the use of the brooches, Oedipus “sees” his fate and acknowledges his avoidance of the truth. The tragic ending shows Oedipus accepting the prophecy he was unable to acknowledge in the past. In other words, the brooches cause the final darkness that was ultimately meant to happen.

The brooches in Oedipus Rex symbolize the physical world. They are beautiful when seen to the eye, but hide something beneath the clothing to which they keep closed. This is like the characters in Oedipus Rex, who look at the details and circumstances of everyday life and pretend not to see what is actually happening. Oedipus’ family have knowledge of their oracles but, never pay attention to them when they try to find the answers. The play illustrates three main prophecies that are unsuccessfully avoided: Oedipus being the son of Laios and Iokaste, the murderer of his father, and the son who would lay with his mother and give birth to cursed children. Oedipus and his parents never realize they were once family. Oedipus doesn’t agree with the prophecy Teiresias describes of him. He reflects a memory of consulting a shine in Delphi at a time a drunken man accused Oedipus of not being the son of his father, Polybus. Despite what the prophecy said, he never contemplates the certainty in its description. He has no clue his parents are the people who have sent him to die as a baby. He fails to makes this connection to his abandonment as an infant: the key clue of pins being skewered through his ankles. Even though Oedipus quotes “I had the mark as long as I can remember” (2.3.114), he doesn’t link the idea of how his scars are the same as Iokaste’s description of her child binded at the ankles and not living to see another day. The audience knows of Oedipus as Laios’ son, but is disregarded to the characters until they gain insight. As Teiresias dictates, Oedipus is the murderer of Laios. The possibility is avoided, even when Oedipus and Iokaste debate their prophecies. She explains to Oedipus the oracle she was given, in which Laios would be killed at a crossroads by the hands of his son. She pronounces it as false given two circumstances: Laios’ death is a result of a group of...

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