Imagery of Light and Darkness in Oedipus the King
Through textual analysis, one is able to understand the specific choices. This is aimed at creating a mental picture to the reader. Most of these are visual in nature, intended to bring about emotional, sensational, and physical response. This paper seeks to discuss how the imagery of light and darkness is employed throughout Oedipus the King, and how is it related to Oedipus’ blindness.
The metaphor of light and darkness is dominantly used in this play. In this play, literal sight is contrasted with ‘insight’. In this play, both imagery of light and darkness represent Teiresias and Oedipus. Though Teireias is blind, the imagery of light is used to show that he holds reality on the ground. Consequently, Oedipus is not blind, but he is shown to be far away from the reality. Oedipus has been blinded in his reasoning, which he proclaims to be the absolute savior of his people. He says, “Here I am, I know you all know me and the world” (Sophocles 7). In the play, the blind prophet unravels the saga around the death of the king Laius though he is blind. Oedipus is blinded by the situation that he initially dismisses the assertion of the prophet that he is the one who killed his father. There is irony as the seer, who is blind of his inability, to be aware of what is going wrong and in fact challenges Oedipus. Tiresias strongly declares the blindness of Oedipus, “you ridicule my blindness, but let me inform you, that with all your eyes, you are blind to the corruption of your life” (Sophocles 469). This clearly shows that his blindness made him commit one of the greatest ills, an abomination in the society. This also demonstrates the inner vision of Tiresias, which is a direct gift from God.
Moreover, Oedipus weird behavior causes him to leave for Corinth as soon as light shone on him about the fate that was destined to befall him. He says, “I was destined to sleep with my mother, and give rise to cursed children hated by men while also killing my own father” (Sophocles 791). Though he was praised of clear sightedness, it is after a many years that Oedipus discovers he had always been blind. This complicates the situation that he blinds himself physically not to look on his own children. Sea imagery also shows things turning from orderly into disorderly manner with depiction of darkness. This is seen, “Dark, horror of darkness” (Sophocles 1313). In addition, the light from the sun is also a form of reality dawning on Oedipus. Oedipus is running away from this reality and begs light not to shine on him. He says, “Let not light of the sun shine to me anymore” (Sophocles 1183).
In conclusion, it is clear imagery relates to Oedipus inability to see the reality, and lack of familiarity with fate bestowed on him. Consequently, the imagery of light is shown to be the final truth as Teiresias prophesied. In addition, failure to recognize the truth is darkness. This darkness caused Oedipus to run away from the reality, and made him physically blind.
Sophocles. “Oedipus the King.” New York: Penguin, 1984. Print.