Oedipus endured many different experiences on his search for the truth that he was not aware even lingered. Each one of these experiences had a polarity of sorts paired along with it in some way. Oedipus’ intellect throughout the play showed both his great strength and his ultimate downfall. Throughout the play of Oedipus the King by Sophocles, there was evidence of great polarities in his search for truth ranging from fame and shame, and sight and blindness, to ignorance and knowledge. The most dreadful of the situations was when Oedipus’ great fame turned bruptly into shame upon himself and his kingdom.
His fame cane from him relieving the city of Thebes of the plague that so long hindered them by the Sphinx. Once Oedipus solved the Sphinx’s riddle, leading her to her ultimate suicide, he received the crown due to his heroic deed. The whole kingdom adored him and would be revolted when they found out the truth. This came about when it was realized that Oedipus’ prophecy that he left Corinth to escape, actually came true. The fact that he killed his birth father and married his mother brought him great shame. With this shame came other things.
Although Oedipus could physically “see,” he was blinded by the fact that he did not know the dark truth that was hovering around him. When his “sight” was given to him, he did not know how to react, and therefore literally took it away from himself. The shame was too great for him to endure so by voluntarily blinding himself, he thought that would be a sufficient punishment. Oedipus was unaware of his reality so when this dreadful news was brought to his attention, he needed some way to aid his grief and did so in an unruly manner.
Oedipus’ ignorance came directly from the fact that he had no truthful knowledge of who he really was. He had left Corinth to escape the chance of letting the prophecy come true, but unbeknownst to him, it would come true because of his departure. The previous knowledge that Oedipus believed about him being from Corinth allowed him to prosper and become a highly respectable king. This ignorance that he possessed was the cause of all of the cumbersome problems he endured throughout the play. Oedipus’ reliance of his intellect both aided him and ultimately led him to is downfall.
If all else were void, the intellect that Oedipus withheld allowed him to be a beloved king adored by the people of Thebes. After all, his intellect was the tool that allowed him to relieve the city of Thebes from the plague. When everyone actually became aware of the truth, Oedipus could not fathom his newfound intellect and performed and act of self-mutilation. It led to his wife (and mother) killing herself, him being exiled from Thebes never to see him children again, and having to give up his crown to someone who did not want the responsibility of a king.
These great polarities that Oedipus faced on his Journey for the truth showed the fast opposites he endured during the various experiences. Usually had times help shape a person’s character but these hard times were too much for anyone to handle. Although he was an extremely respectable leader, in the end the negatives outweighed all of the positives presented by Oedipus. When all of the puzzles pieces onto his family and kingdom. With a man who did not want any kind of kingly duties taking his throne, I do not see how things could change for the better.