Oedipus Metaphors

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Throughout Sophocles’ Oedipus Rex, Oedipus attempts to figure out who killed Laios, unsure until the end of the play if he was the one who did it. When the Shepherd finally tells him that he has fulfilled his oracle, Oedipus is so distraught with the truth that he stabs himself in the eyes. Sophocles’ extended metaphors of lightness and darkness, knowledge or truth and ignorance, and vision and blindness suggest that living in oblivion should be desired, because the truth causes destruction by revealing unforgivable sins. Sophocles expresses the harmfulness of truth through presenting the knowledgeable as weighted down with guilt and Oedipus’s changing definitions of dark and light. These contrasting metaphors indicate that knowing the truth…show more content…
When Creon reasons that the lack of investigation upon Laios’s death was a result of the Sphinx, Oedipus responds, “Then once more I must bring what is dark to light (9).” Here, he describes the answer to the Sphinx song first being in the “dark” and then in the “light” after he solves the riddle, expressing that dark is ignorance and light is knowledge. However, after his revelation, Oedipus immediately contradicts himself, exclaiming, “O Light, may I look on you for the last time (64).” Here, Sophocles personifies “Light” as a life-bettering force; light is equivalent to the bliss of ignorance that Oedipus had lived in for his entire life until this moment. He also refers to himself as “he” to separate himself from his identity with disgust. As he blinds himself, Oedipus wails, “Too long been blind to those for whom I was searching! From this hour, go in darkness (69)!” again contradicting his former statement. Sophocles uses the literal form of “darkness” to describe his physical ability to see; nevertheless he states that he was figuratively blind from the truth and thus in light, and he is now going into darkness, which bears the pain of knowledge. Throughout the definition reversal of the metaphors, one thing remains constant: light is good and pure, and dark is
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