Oedipus Rex or Oedipus the King

Physical Sight vs. Non-Physical Sight in the Oedipus Plays

The genius of Sophocles' Oedipus Plays is enriched through the many levels of interpretation that can be explored by each individual reader. One major area left open for interpretation is sight. It is divided into two categories, "physical" sight and "non-physical" sight. Physical sight is the event itself as it occurs in the story, while non-physical sight is the knowledge of a specific event. Throughout the Oedipus Plays, non-physical sight has a more dramatic effect on the characters than physical sight.

Oedipus' actions during his youth are dictated by his fear of prophecy (or non-physical sight). Oedipus leaves his home in hopes of outwitting the gods and escaping his fate, therefore saving him from the horrors that have been predicted. Despite his best efforts, he still fulfills his fate, marrying his mother and slaying his father. Oedipus' ignorance about the fact that the prophecy has come to pass wraps the city of Thebes in a blanket of irony. To the citizens of Thebes, he is "a most respected king," called "Oedipus the Great." The people respect Oedipus and look to him for help because he is "who disenthralled us from the Sphinx" (pg 6). When Thebes is...

Join Now to View Premium Content

GradeSaver provides access to 1153 study guide PDFs and quizzes, 8922 literature essays, 2367 sample college application essays, 392 lesson plans, and ad-free surfing in this premium content, “Members Only” section of the site! Membership includes a 10% discount on all editing orders.

Join Now

Already a member? Log in