Sight and Blindness in Oedipus Rex
Oedipus Rex is a play about the way we blind ourselves to painful truths that we can’t bear to see. Physical sight and blindness are used throughout the play, often ironically, as a metaphor for mental sight and blindness. The play ends with the hero Oedipus literally blinding himself to avoid seeing the result of his terrible fate. But as the play demonstrates, Oedipus, the man who killed his father and impregnated his mother, has been blind all along, and is partly responsible for his own blindness.
When the play opens, the people of the town are asking Oedipus for help. A curse has been cast upon the city and the only way to remove it, is to find the murderer of the last king, Laios. Oedipus then makes a promise to the people that he will find the guilty and punish them.
Oedipus can physically see, but his mental blindness inhibits him from seeing the truth of his life. During the course of the day he has been given many clues to realize the truth about himself. Such that his name is Oedipus and “Oedipus” means swollen foot, and Laious’ son’s feet were bound together at the ankle. It becomes very obvious to the reader early on in the play as to what the outcome will be. It is ironic that the one individual, who comes to help the city, is the individual that has been the cause of the curse. Oedipus is the illness.
Oedipus and Jocasta both don’t want to see the truth. Although it may occur to them at some point, but they don’t give it a second thought because they think it is absurd and it isn’t possible. “Why should anyone in this world be afraid, since fate rules us and nothing van be forseen? A man should live only for the present day. Have no more fear of sleeping with your mother: How many men, in dreams, have lain with their mothers! No reasonable man is troubled by such things.” Jocasta is further from believing than Oedipus, she constantly tells him not to worry about it, don’t get worked up, and to just forget what you were told. Oedipus...