The events described by Sophocles in Antigone, Oedipus the King,and Oedipus at Colonus reveal numerous beliefs and traditions of the Antique Greece. Among such, the strong religious beliefs and inevitability of fate are central motives of the tragedies. These motives pass through almost all the story lines, but the blindness of Oedipus requires special analysis as it becomes not only a symbol of awareness but also of struggle against fate and person’s concentration on the inner world.
The motive of blindness was widely used in the ancient mythology. Regarding this issue, one should consider the blindness of the great poet Homer, who was highly intelligent, and prophet Tiresias, who knew the mysteries unknown to humans. Some gods like Greek Themis, Tyche were often depicted with tied eyes as a symbol of justice and impartiality. Consequently, blindness can be regarded as a feature that emphasizes some characters as special and even divinifies them to some extent. However, blindness of Oedipus is different from the above mentioned ones since it was the act of his will instead of somebody’s punishment. It is essential to mark out the ironical meeting of Tiresias and Oedipus. Sophocles emphasized how well the blind Tiresias was aware of all the horrible things which had happened and will happen with a sighted Oedipus. Later, Sophocles has put the phrase into blind Oedipus’ mouth, “The blind man’s words will be instinct with sight” (Sophocles 55). While Sophocles emphasized the vanity of person’s struggle against destiny, Oedipus has blinded himself to oppose fate, which “swooped down on him” (Sophocles 213). Therefore, the act of his self-blinding can be regarded as a metaphor, which shows that he has finally become as blind as he has morally been before.
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The motive of blindness in Sophocles’ Antigone, Oedipus the King and Oedipus at Colonus is obviously very symbolic and emphasizes the development of the protagonist’s awareness and responsibility for his deeds. His act of self-blinding not only contributes to his fight against the fate but becomes a proof of his wisdom and attempts to equal his inner world with the events of the outer one.