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Oedipus remains in the dark.

Sophocles has used ideas of light and sight metaphorically to depict knowledge and truth
in Oedipus Rex. Oedipus has remained in the dark (i.e. without the knowledge of truth)
from his childhood. He did not know who his real parents were. Even when he was told
that he is not his fathers son (784) he failed to unravel the truth. Polybus and Merope out
rightly rejected the possibility of such an occurrence (787-788). When he could not
ignore his instincts and went to Pytho to find out the truth, he did not receive the answer
to his specific question but instead was told the prophecy that he will marry his mother
and kill his father (794-796).
To escape this prophecy he fled his country and had an encounter with Laius. He killed
Laius without knowing that Laius was his real father thus initiating the fulfillment of
prophecy. He later reached Thebes where he was crowned King and married Jocasta
without any idea about who she was. Oedipus committed the very acts which fulfilled the
prophecy he attempted to escape, in the dark.
As the man who solved the riddle of Sphinx, Oedipus proves himself an intelligent man.
His other actions, however continually reinforce his lack of foresight and ignorance.
When Creon comes back from the Pythian house of Apollo and asks if he knew Laius,
Oedipus remarks, I never saw him (110). Listening to the message Creon brings, he
takes it on himself to find out the killer. He asks the chorus for clues about Laiuss death
(221-226). He had been King of Thebes for many years, yet, he never took the trouble to
inquire about Laius and his death. Such negligence shows Oedipus's complacent nature
towards finding the truth.
He then goes on to pronounce a severe sentence upon the person who had killed or aided
in the killing or who retains information about the killing of Laius (236), not knowing
that the person who had killed Laius was none other than himself.
When Teiresias tells him that he is the one who killed Laius (351, 362), he refuses to
believe it. Teiresias does not want to reveal, initially, what he knows but on repeated

provocation from Oedipus he articulates it both in plain words and in riddles. Oedipuss
lack of imagination and ability to see the truth becomes evident when he refuses to
believe in Teiresiass words and in turn accuses Teiresias and Creon of plotting against
him. Creon confronts Oedipus about the accusation saying to Oedipus - Because I know
you are wrong (627), to which Oedipus replies - I know I am right (628). Oedipus
fails to see the truth in what Teiresias was trying to say and interprets it as a plot against
him. His overconfidence and pride at his own intellect is rendered baseless by the visible
lack of intelligence and indicates a tragic flaw in his character i.e. his impulsive irrational
behavior and flawed intelligence.
When Jocasta and Oedipus share their respective prophecies which are uncannily similar,
they, surprisingly, both fail to make the obvious connection revealing their unwillingness
to accept fate and see what is right in front of them. Even after numerous of such
revelations, Oedipus refuses to accept the obvious and hopes for some miracle to happen
which will bring him emancipation from the curse which has already befallen him. He
keeps waiting for the last clue to unravel the mystery, indicating his lack of foresight.
Jocasta comes out of the dark before Oedipus does. When the messenger from Corinth
narrates the story of how Oedipus was brought to Corinth, she comprehends the truth but
Oedipus waits for the shepherd to come and confirm the inevitable. She tries to stop him
from seeing the shepherd but he is too stubborn to listen to her, which reinforces his lack
of understanding and inability to see the truth. When she fails to convince him she goes
and hangs herself.
When the shepherd confirms the facts presented by the messenger of Corinth, the truth
becomes clear to Oedipus thus bringing him into the light (or bringing him out of the
dark). The truth, coupled with the suicide of Jocasta, was too heavy for Oedipus to bear.
He rushes into the palace to stab out his own eyes, and then demands to be exiled and,
thus, literally be permanently in the dark.

Darkness and light are tightly wound up with the theme of sight and blindness in this
play. Oedipus and all the other characters, except for Teiresias, are 'in the dark' about
Oedipus's origins and the murder of Laius. Teiresias, of course, is literally 'in the dark'
with his own blindness, and yet manages to have sight over everything that is to follow.
After Oedipus finds out what has happened, he regrets the way everything has indeed
"come to light". At the end of the play, moreover, Oedipus blinds himself, because what
he has metaphorically seen (i.e. realized) leaves him unable to face his family or his
parents in the afterlife. Darkness/light and sight/blindness operate both literally and
metaphorically within the play. Indeed, literal sight is juxtaposed with 'insight' or