Portrayal of blindness in The Outsider and Oedipus the King
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Portrayal of blindness in The Outsider and Oedipus the King A primitive motif in Oedipus the King by Sophocles and The Outsider by Albert Camus is blindness. The protagonists in the novels are blinded to a personal truth, and are physically blinded as well. In The Outsider, Meursault's blindness is metaphorical, as he is negligent to his own absurdity, which he later becomes categorized as. On the other hand, Oedipus's blindness is literal, as he is ignorant to the truth of his life; and the fact that he is incapable of escaping the destiny that the Gods have set out for him, which resulted in him gorging his eyes out. The characters suffer an emotional and physical blindness, which leads to tragic irony in Oedipus the King and existential irony in The Outsider. In both the novels, it is only towards the end that the two protagonists release themselves from their crudeness of the truth.
Akin to Meursault, Oedipus is also blind towards accepting and understanding his life, and where he originated from. Astonishingly, given that Oedipus is given many hints that could lead him towards understanding his life, he still fails to detect them. The most distinct ironies in the two novels come from the blind prophet, as he is literally blind and yet he understands a great deal more than Oedipus, who was not physically blind at the time. Teiresias points this out to Oedipus very bluntly by saying " you have taunted me with blindness, you have your sight yet you cannot see where, nor with whom, you live, nor in what horror (411-413)." In The Outsider, the blinding light is constantly portrayed, and the main purpose of this would have been to highlight Meursault's mental blindness. The light is usually brought about in the parts of the novel where something important that would lead to Meursault's understanding takes place.
Alliteration was used by Camus to evoke empathy in the readers and portray how the sunlight stroke Meursault like fire, thus blinding him from reality. The theme of blindness in The Outsider and Oedipus the King is intermittent, and appears in a metaphorical and literal manner. The protagonist's blindness is portrayed through literary techniques such a repetition, diction, metaphors and alliteration. In The Outsider, it was ephemeral and brought about by sunlight, while in Oedipus the King it was a permanent issue and was brought about by Oedipus himself. However, the metaphorical blindness of both Oedipus and Meursault was an evolution throughout the novel, as they eventually come to terms with the philosophies in which Camus and Sophocles had in mind. At the end of both the novels, the character's blindness leads them to finally understand the circumstance in which they are in. When Meursault finally understands the meaning of his life, he becomes the absurd hero whereas Oedipus' outlook becomes more realistic and he ironically gorges his eyes out. Similar to Meursault, he intends to prove that he has not advanced to anything from his new found discoveries.
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