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Oedipus the king essay blindness

oedipus the king essay blindness

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Published: 23rd March, 2015

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The theme of blindness in Shakespeare King Lear and Sophocles' Oedipus Rex comes out both clearly and in subtle ways. Blindness metaphorically depicts ignorance and unwillingness deal the truth. Each of the Characters blindness was the fundamental cause of bad decision they made, decision that they all come to regret. .

As a result of Lear's high position in society, it was expected of him to apply good judgment, telling apart what was good from what was evil. Unfortunately his being blind to the reality prevented him from exercising good judgment in differentiating genuine love from fake one. His first act of blindness was seen at the beginning of the play where he was deceived by his two eldest daughters Gonerils and Regan who responded to the his test of love towards him , with such flattery telling him how much they loved in wildly overblown terms. Their profession of love was nothing but flattery. Goneril could not even put her alleged love into words and said that her love was "a love that makes …..Speech unable…..beyond all manners of so much love, I love you". Regan said that "I find that she names my very did of love, only she comes too short".

On the contrary, Cordelia when asked, chose not to flatter her father and a sign of her sincere love for him said to herself "Love and remain silent" (Shakespeare, 3). Thus when it was her turn to express her love, she answered that she had nothing to say and when pressed to speak said that she could not "heave her heart into her mouth", that she loved him exactly the way a daughter ought to have loved her father and that if her sisters were sincere about loving their father they would not have husbands. As a result of Cordelia's response Lear flew into a rage and disowned her, dividing her share of the kingdom between the two older sisters. Cordelia's sincere love and Lear's blindness to its existence trigger the tragic events that follow throughout the play. By stepping down from the throne he had in essence give up all of his formal authority to those who did not actually love him such that even his own daughter denied him food and shelter and eventually took away his servants.

It is Oedipus' metaphorical blindness to the relationship between his past and present situation that brought about his ruin just s in the case of King Lear. Oedipus told Jocasta, then his wife, of the prophesy he had as a youth that he would kill his father and sleep with his mother and Jocasta told him of a similar given to Laius that her son would have grown up to kill his father. When Oedipus sought the help Tiresia in order to solve the plague that had overcome his abilities that though physically blind Thebe, he could feel all the more what sickness haunted the city of Thembe. (44) and thus could help overcome the plague. However Tiresias prophesies about the way Oedipus would kill his mother and marry his mother, made Oedipus angry and abusive, choosing to remain blind to the prophesies ."You have lost your power, stone blind, stone deaf, and eyes blind as stone!" 60 was what he could say to him.. In response Tiresias became more blunt and said to Oedipus "blind who now have eyes, beggar who now is rich, he will grope his way toward a foreign soil a stick tapping before him step by step," (97) after which he told him to reflect on what he had said and if he found that he had lied then he was at liberty to call him blind. Thus the debate concerning debate concerning the extent to which prophesies should be trusted at all was just a way of escapism from the reality.

In both metaphorical blindness imply that human being can demonstrate remarkable power of intellectual penetration and insight and that they both have a great capacity for knowledge but even that smartest of human being are liable to error. For Oedipus on hearing that he was set to kill his father, he fled Corinth and ended up in Thebes the only rational way to keep from doing it. However in Thebes, when Oedipus and Jocasta begun to get close to the truth about the murder of king Laius, Oedipus fastened onto a detail in the hope of absolving himself. Jocasta said Laius was killed by strangers whereas Oedipus knew well that he acted alone when he killed a man in similar circumstances. Both wanted to remain blind to the truth leading to Joscasta to commit suicide and Oedipus to gauge his eyes. In Liar the king, Kent was only one who was able to see Cordelia's true love for Liar and tried to make him see sense. He told him that he was insane to reward the insincerity of the two older daughters and disown Cordelia who loved him more. Due to his irrational nature, he was he was blind to Kent sentiment thus fired him. In both therefore there is the propensity to remain blind to the reality especially when it's unpleasant.

After being banished, Kent sought to make him see the truth by all means and thus disguised him and was hired as the king's fool. He managed to make him realize how wicked his two daughters were. Kent as the kings fool is in a position to offer him counsel, albeit nonsensically i9n form of songs and riddles. For example in telling Lear that "I'm better than thou art now; I'm a fool thou art nothing," hinted to the precarious situation which he had put himself. (Shakespeare, 168-169).His seemingly silly singing "The hedge-sparrow fed the cuckoo so long; and it had it head bit off by it young"-undoubtedly warned the Lear that his two daughters, each just like a traitorous "cuckoo," planned to turn against their father who raised them (Shakespeare, 190-191).

Eventual sightedness brought along pain both king Oedipus and Lear case. It was also form the most unlikely sources. For Oedipus it was from the blind seer, Tiresia while for king Lear, the truth emanated from his fools counsel. All was well as long as the status quo remained but once the gravity of the real situation became open fatalities and suffering resulted. King Oedipus gauged his eyes because of the realization that he had killed his own father and married his mother just as it had been prophesied, and liar died an a beaten man when he realized that Cordelia's lack of flattering meant that her love for him was so great such that she could not express it in mere words, something Kent had tried to make him see. Unfortunately his blindness ended up costing her life as well as his own.

Gloucester suffered from dreadful case of blindness. His lack of sight made him believe that Edmund was the good son while Edgar despite of the fact that he had been the good one, believed was the bad capable of plotting his death in order to get his inheritance. Near the end he finally regained his sight and discovered that Edger had put every effort to save his life while disguised as the poor Tom and that indeed he had loved him all along.

William Shakespeare. King Lear. Courier Dover Publications, 1994.

Sophocles, Johann H. Barby. Oedipus Rex. San Val, 1991.

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