08 Ankur Gupta Paper 2

08 Ankur Gupta Paper 2 - Gupta 1 In humans, blindness is...

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Gupta 1 In humans, blindness is conventionally thought of as the lack of the physical faculty to see using the eyes. Though it is true that humans are not bats, they possess, when blinded, another means of vision. This is essentially a sixth sense and can be understood by comparing it to the human ability to imagine. The dynamic between these two abilities to see is displayed particularly well in Sophocles’ play Oedipus the King since each character’s blindness is mutually exclusive. In other words, if they are blind physically, they can see mentally, and vice versa. Because a significant portion of the play revolves around the concept of sight and foresight, blindness is one of the main underlying themes in Oedipus the King- not just physical blindness, but intellectual blindness as well. In fact, blindness plays an integral role in the characterization of the three most important individuals in the play, Oedipus, Tiresias, and Jocasta, and thus, aids in the development of the plot. The protagonist and tragic hero of Sophocles’ work, Oedipus, is one of the most renowned characters in all of literature for his trials concerning blindness. In the beginning of the play, he is hailed as a great leader, possessing the intellect to solve the riddle of the Sphinx to save the people of Thebes while simultaneously possessing the charisma to keep all the citizens satiated. The first conflict he encounters during his reign of power proves to a defining moment as a character, and not unexpectedly, concerns the faculty of vision. When addressing the concerns of his people, he says, “I would be blind to misery/ not to pity my people kneeling at my feet” (Sophocles 14-15). From the get go, Sophocles includes subtle insinuations as foreshadowing what is to come. When Oedipus makes this remark, he is fully capable of physical sight and completely incapable of seeing the future, much less sensing the troubles that await him. Through the remark, however, Sophocles’ begins to characterize Oedipus as an empathetic ruler whose primary concern is the well being of his people. This noble behavior is
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Gupta 2 noted several times throughout the play but primarily in the beginning before his main concern shifts to himself. He goes on to state, “My children/ I pity you. I see- how could I fail too see/ what longings bring you here?” (Sophocles 69-71). Oedipus’ sympathy is unfaltering as he attempts to pacify the people and figure out the situation at hand. Here, he again displays compassion for his people, which further molds his persona into that of an esteemed leader. The statement also touches the blindness theme as Oedipus begins to question his inability to immediately see the dire straights of his people. Seemingly distraught by this, Oedipus demonstrates a slight change in attitude. Upon confrontation, Oedipus’ character becomes much more adamant in seeking the
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08 Ankur Gupta Paper 2 - Gupta 1 In humans, blindness is...

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