Oedipus Rex: The Key Passage Essay

1494 words - 6 pages

Oedipus Rex. A play that enacts the story of a man who’s ignorance, battle with fate over his free will, and his blindness to truth; lead him into his own demise. With so many critical elements in one play, there must be a climax where all of these elements come together and culminate into one key passage.The passage in lines 350-450 accomplishes this. In this passage there are several elements, but there are five significant ones: character development, the theme of: ignorance, fate versus free-will, and blindness to truth are revealed; and there is also foreshadowing of Oedipus’ demise as a result of these elements. The purpose of this essay will be to investigate these elements and establish this passage as a key passage of Oedipus Rex.
In this key passage, Sophocles develops the character of Oedipus through the use of dramatic irony; which later leads to a relation to the theme of blindness to truth. The purpose of dramatic irony is to draw attention to and emphasize the limited nature of the human condition. Dramatic irony causes the reader to pause and reflect on a particular moment. Dramatic irony can be seen in the in discourse between Oedipus and Teiresias: “OEDIPUS: What are you saying? / Do you know and will not say? Do you intend / to betray me and destroy the city?” (Ln. 396-398). This is a perfect example of dramatic irony because Oedipus is goading Teiresias into revealing knowledge that Teiresias refuses to bequeath unto Oedipus by accusing him of treason and betrayal. The dramatic irony is that Teiresias would not be betraying Oedipus by telling him; rather, the knowledge itself ends up betraying Oedipus. When Teiresias imparts upon Oedipus the knowledge that Oedipus himself is the “accursed polluter of this land” (Ln. 420); Oedipus begins to fall into the theme of blindness to truth through even further use of dramatic irony. The dramatic irony of this scene is that Teiresias who is literally blind can figuratively see the truth, whereas Oedipus who can literally see is figuratively blind to the truth because he refuses to accept the truth even when the evidence is clearly stacked against him. This character development is significant because it is related to the style of writing that Sophocles uses in this play. Sophocles unconventionally focuses more on character development rather than action. This is why this passage constitutes as a key passage.
Teiresias: both blind and clairvoyant, represents the ambiguous nature of spiritual powers. More than this however, he is set up to be a foil to Oedipus to enhance the contrast between the two and establish the theme of blindness to truth. Teiresias is a foil to Oedipus because Teiresias is literally blind but can metaphorically see, whilst Oedipus can literally see but is metaphorically blind. Oedipus is metaphorically blind because even when the truth is revealed to him, he rejects it. In contrast, Teiresias accepts the truth, setting up the perfect foil to Oedipus. In this...

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