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The Character of Tiresias in Oedipus Rex, Essay Example

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In Sophocles’ famous drama Oedipus Rex, translated to Oedipus the King in English, the main plot revolves around a self-centered king who becomes obsessed with avenging the murder of his successor, to his own overall demise. There is one character that has frequently popped up in mythology as a seer of the future that was a center character in this play, the blind prophet Tiresias. With regards to the play as a whole, the character of Tiresias serves many purposes to enhance the plot, as well assist in the development of Oedipus himself.

After learning from the Oracle at Delphi that his kingdom would be doomed unless the murderer of his predecessor was brought to justice, Oedipus turned to the blind prophet Tiresias for guidance. Initially, Tiresias refuses to speak on the subject–flat out declining the King’s request. At this time a verbal confrontation ensues, resulting in Oedipus questioning Tireasius’ gift. Tireasias then tell Oedipus that he did not want the answer to his questions. Eventually, Tireasias gives in, and tells the King that he himself is the murderer.

This is the direct reason Oedipus goes to see the Oracle himself–his incredible amount of pride. Obviously learning his fate from the Oracle, and the subsequent events that proved Tireasias correct, truly is Oedipus’ tragic flaw, outlined by the character of the humble, blind prophet. The other function of Tireasias in the play, typical of Greek drama, was to foreshadow the rest of, and the ending of the play as a whole. Although Tireasias was originally reluctant to tell Oedipus anything, this served to build up suspense for the seemingly ridiculous claims he would then make. These claims, unfortunately for Oedipus, became the truth.

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