AP Literature and Composition
10 February 2015
Blind to the Consequences
Perhaps the greatest sense utilized by man, the sense of sight has a variety of imperative uses for the survival and evolution of the human species. Sight’s importance makes a prime candidate for literary symbolism. The symbolism of seeing has been a constant object within literature, especially in conjunction with the theme of being blind towards evil. Writers have achieved great success through stories telling of heroes realizing too late that their actions have done more harm than good. Sophocles, a great Greek tragedian, wrote one of the greatest tales of a fallen heroes, called
Oedipus the King.
The story follows the tale of Oedipus, a man avoiding his destiny to kill his father and marry his mother.
, while the play moves from scene to scene, Oedipus fails to realize that his fate came true the moment he became king of Thebes, and the Theban hero’s blindness to the fact prevails through Sophocles’ use of vision symbolism throughout the play. [The use of “however” connotes that within the sentence is an element in opposition to something in the previous sentence. In this case, “however” indicates that Oedipus failed in avoiding his destiny.]
One of the most famous scenes in
Oedipus the King
, Oedipus’ confrontation with the prophet Tiresias, contains not only multiple provocative lines of dialogue, but the vision symbolism present cannot be a mistake on Sophocles’ part. For instance, Tiresias contains a wealth of wisdom unparalleled in Thebes while also being blind. The Chorus during this scene
refer to Tiresias as having “a king’s eyes,” which foreshadows Oedipus’ future blindness
, when Oedipus blinds himself, he does so only with the knowledge of his crimes against his family, and Tiresias also knows of Oedipus’ crimes before Oedipus does. [Furthermore simply means I am continuing my analysis of “a king’s eyes.] Sophocles writes to make both Tiresias and Oedipus blind to demonstrate that truth and knowledge blinds oneself to the physical world.
, through the two character’s blindness and other similarities, Sophocles connects the two characters as if they were the same person, revealing a sense of circular logic.
[“However” simply dictates a change in argument] Both Oedipus and Tiresias have “king’s eyes,” and both have an affinity for riddles.
, if Oedipus and Tiresias are connected through riddles and both have king’s eyes, then Sophocles