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It is the blindness of Oedipus that leads to his destruction. Discuss.

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Introduction

"He that came seeing, blind shall he go..." It is the blindness of Oedipus that leads to his destruction. Discuss As soon as the play begins, the audience becomes deeply aware of the immense power of the king, Oedipus: he appears, at first, as a wise and strong leader as well as a fair and shrewd ruler. He is addressed, in the opening scene of the play, as "Oedipus, great and glorious", as "the greatest of men" and as "the equal of gods" - these words alone show us how he is perceived by his people (and also by himself). The words of the priest tell the audience that he has acted with great wisdom in the past when he solved the riddle of the "vile enchantress" with his "diligence." However, Oedipus is a character that is fatally flawed. He is unable to see what is so clear to the blind seer Teiresias and what will become clear to the audience very soon - that he is cause of the city's "affliction", that he is the unclean one who is the source of the malevolence that is plaguing the city. ...read more.

Middle

or because he is dazzled by his perception of his past triumph. Whatever the reason, the audience is acutely aware of the fate of those with obstinate arrogance and pride. On top of this there is, in Oedipus, a kind of blind ardor to uncover the truth. Oedipus does not embark on this quest to find the killer for anyone but himself: he believes that "the killer of Laius, whoever he was, might think to turn his hand against him" and for this reason decides to push on relentlessly - he believes that "thus, by serving Laius, he serves himself." He does not wait to contemplate the possible chain reaction that swift, un-thought-out action could ignite, but "stands not idle" and jumps ahead of everyone else: "One thing I have already done - the only thing that offered hope." Oedipus tries always to be two steps ahead - he is blind in his reckless and headlong pursuit for another chance to prove his greatness. ...read more.

Conclusion

Oedipus can see the blind man in front of him but no further - he is blind to the clear fate that awaits him. Teiresias even states that he "is the cursed polluter of the land." A shocking fate awaits him. The killer of Laius will indeed "turn his hand against him." The stick that the Teiresias used to enter the city is, metaphorically speaking, the same stick that Oedipus will use when he is banished: "beggar, stick in hand, groping his way to a land of exile." Thus, the blindness of Oedipus prevents him from escaping his fate. The fatal flaws of impetuousness and arrogance that will ultimately destroy him are made clear by his hotheaded actions and words. Secondly, he follows his quest for the truth of his birth without regard for what may come if the truth were known and even when his fate has been spelt out, he continues to the bitter end. Finally, the contrast between Oedipus and Teiresias is the way in which Sophocles emphasises the blindness of Oedipus. ...read more.

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