Essay Example on Sophocles Use of Symbolism In Oedipus the King

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Sophocles Use of Symbolism In Oedipus the King by Sophocles The King of Thebes Oedipus is attempting to uncover the killer of King Laios he is then told by the leader of the Chorus to ask Apollo to name the killer although Oedipus was the killer himself Symbolism in Oedipus The King is important because it helps the reader understand the different strengths and flaws of Teiresias and Oedipus In Oedipus The King the author Sophocles uses symbolism to convey unlikely abilities develop a character and to create irony Sophocles uses symbolism to show that although someone may not have all of the same features as others they have their own strengths which make them unique In order to understand what Apollo is saying the Leader of the Chorus tells Oedipus to seek Tiresias who sees what the god Apollo sees 388 The Leader also says that If you heard the god speaking heard his voice you might see more more more 390 391 Sophocles uses symbolism in this statement in order to show that even though Tiresias is blind he has the ability to see through the god Apollo and also has the ability to speak through Apollo However later in the play Oedipus gouges out his own eyes after he believes that his vision has brought all of his misfortunes to him Oedipus states you won't see my agonies or my crimes but in endless darkness always there you ll see those I never should have seen 1641 1644 



This shows that because Tiresias doesn t have eyes he will not see tragic imagery leaving him with a clear mind The more Oedipus listens to others stories about him the more he will learn the truth that Tiresias refused to tell Buenafe 2 Sophocles also uses symbolism to develop a character throughout the story During the beginning of the story Oedipus is attempting to uncover the plague that is killing Thebes so he asks Teiresias to help him see what the plague is Oedipus says You cannot see yet you know the nature of this plague infesting out city 414 415 This means that he is desperate to find and stop this plague on Thebes This quote also acknowledges that Oedipus is the plague that he is attempting to destroy However Oedipus refuses this revelation due to the fact that he has saved the city of Thebes once before Oedipus finds everything that he has been looking for later in the story but the information damages Oedipus psychologically causing Oedipus to gauge his own eyes out a servant later says that Oedipus lifted the brooches again and drove their pins through his eyeballs up 1648 1649 Oedipus gauged out his eyes is because it was a punishment for his eyes deceiving him This is an example of symbolism in the play because Oedipus asked Teiresias who is blind to help him uncover the truth the truth that he rejected Oedipus was so arrogant and confident in himself that he blamed Tiresias and Kreon of treason causing him to be blind to the truth being revealed to him In Oedipus The King Symbolism is also used to create irony An example of this is when the Leader of the Chorus states sees what the god Apollo sees 388

This line emphasizes the abilities that the prophet Teiresias has Another example of irony used by Sophocles is when a Priest says but we know how great you are Oedipus greater than any man 53 54 This is an example of irony because Oedipus is called great but he is the plague of Thebes Irony connects to symbolism because it exaggerates the fact that Tiresias can see what Apollo can see without having the ability to see himself Buenafe 3 One may believe that in Oedipus The King symbolism is not being used in the play because it may be mistaken for how Sophocles attempts to hook the reader However an example of symbolism being used in the story is when the Leader states Wisdom is a curse when wisdom does nothing for the man who has it 429 430 This is symbolism because later in the story it is revealed to Oedipus that Jocasta is his mother and that he was the one who murdered Laios his father when Oedipus says Now everything is clear I lived with a woman she was my mother slept in my mother's bed and I murdered murdered my own father 1496 1499 Instead of using a hook to interest the reader in the play Sophocles uses symbolism in the play Oedipus The King to portray unlikely abilities a character may have develop a character throughout the play and to create irony Symbolism is used to convey to the reader unique strengths of certain characters Symbolism is also utilized to develop certain characters in the story Another way symbolism is used in the play is creating irony Without the use of symbolism in the play the event of Oedipus gouging out his eyes would not maintain the same shock because there would not be as much leadup Buenafe 4 Works Cited Sophocles Oedipus The King Oxford University Press New York 1978

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