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Shame, Equality, And Blindness: Oedipus The King By Sophocles

1537 words - 6 pages

Throughout Sophocles’ Oedipus the King, shame, equality, and blindness are all themes presented. Tiresias, a blind prophet attempts to convince King Oedipus that he has lived a shameful life by bringing light to the truth that Oedipus had no idea who his real parents are, and that he himself is the one who killed Laius. Tiresias, though blind, can clearly see the truth and shame that Oedipus lives in, while Oedipus, though he can see, is blind to the shameful truth he has brought upon himself and his family. Three quotes from Oedipus the King demonstrate how Tiresias attempts to show Oedipus how by not being able to see the truth about what he has done, he has unknowingly brought shame upon his family and will soon stare into darkness.
In the first quote, Tiresias explains to Oedipus that he lives with his family in shame.
Tiresias: "You live, unknowing, with those nearest to you
in the greatest shame. You do not see the evil."
(Sophocles 1072)
By using the word, “unknowing,” Sophocles lets the reader know how Oedipus has no clue as to how he is living his life. Oedipus believes that everything in his life is perfect. The phrase, “those nearest to you,” refers to Oedipus’s wife Jocasta, and their four children, Antigone, Ismene, Polyneices, and Etocles. “Greatest shame,” is how Oedipus is living his life with his family. Oedipus is living a disgraceful, dishonorable, and improper life. By using the phrase, “You do not see the evil,” the reader is able to further grasp the idea that Oedipus is the one who brought the curse upon Thebes that is devouring Oedipus and his family from the inside out.
In the second quote, Tiresias tells Oedipus that even though he is blind, he is neither inferior nor superior to the King, but he is equal. By being equal, Tiresias believes that he should have an equal opportunity to speak what is on his mind.
Tiresias: "You are the king, and yet I am your equal
in my right to speak. In that too I am Lord.
for I belong to Loxias, not you.
I am not Creon's man. He's nothing to me.
Hear this, since you have thrown my blindness at me:
Your eyes can't see the evil to which you've come,
nor where you live, nor who is in your house.
Do you know your parents? Not knowing, you are
their enemy, in the underworld and here.
A mother's and a father's double-lashing
terrible-footed curse will soon drive you out.
Now you can see, then you will stare into darkness.
What place will not be harbor to your cry,
Or what Cithaeron not reverberate
when you have heard the bride-song in your palace
to which you sailed? Fair wind to evil harbor!
Nor do you see how many other woes
will level to yourself and to your children.
So, at my message, and at Creon too,
splatter muck! There will never be a man
ground into wretchedness as you will be."
(Sophocles 1073)
The first phrase, " You are the king, and yet I am your equal in my right to speak. In that too I am Lord," is a strong and powerful way of Sophocles' attempt to...

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